blog

The larger implications of punishing Pussy Riot

What started as a youthful expression in the quasi-democratic republic of Russia has turned into an international pop scandal. On February 21, a punk band consisting of three women did what — in my opinion — only oppressed citizens feeling they have nothing to lose and everything to gain would dare do. The young women, dressed in vibrant colored outfits, donning balaclavas, stormed the altar at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow to perform their song/prayer “Mother of God, Drive Putin Out.” They were arrested and have been imprisoned for the past five months. Sentencing for their act is scheduled for August 17, but it’s looking like more like it’s Putin’s regime that’s up for scrutiny among his own people and the global community.

The three women, Yekaterina Samutsevich (29), Maria Alyokhina (24) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (22), no longer dressed like an anonymous collective of protesting superheroes during their trial, have been as articulate in defense of their actions as any well-intentioned, politically inclined protestor could be — an occidental martyr or three, unafraid to be imprisoned for their convictions. Which is most likely what has helped draw attention from the likes of the Amnesty International community, Yoko Ono, Sting, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Erykah Badu, Peaches and Franz Ferdinand, to name a few. Oh, right, and Madonna. Madge never being one to miss an opportunity to get her soapbox on.

Putin’s regime asked that the protesting grrls be sentenced to seven years for “hooliganism,” namely offend the Orthodox community. But that idea was soon revised to three years as a growing number of men and women, wearing balaclavas and chanting, “We are all Pussy Riot,” showed no signs of losing steam. In the closing statements of their trial, the Pussy Riot ladies were clear where they position themselves, saddling up next to Joseph Brodsky and other dissidents. “When thousands of people will read and watch this, this freedom will grow with every caring person who listens to us in this country.” If you’re curious to see their support grow and evolve, visit the FB page.

So what should the young democracy do? Not surprisingly, other members of Pussy Riot have vowed more protests. No one is expecting the ladies to get off scot-free, but Putin and his dictatorial regime may be wise to get hip to the sounds on the street and go easy on three young women daring to express themselves. Suddenly, Madonna’s support seems painfully appropriate. Someone should get Putin an iTunes gift card, stat.

Photo credit: Fototelegraf.ru