pussy riot is a russian feminist punk-rock collective based in moscow founded in august 2011. it has a variable membership of abt 11 women, ranging from about 20 to 33 yrs of age, who wear brightly colored balaclavas who use only nicknames during interviews. they stage unauthorized provocative guerrilla performances in unusual public locations, which are edited into music videos and posted on the internet. their lyrical themes include feminism, LGBT rights, opposition to russian president vladimir putin, whom they regard as a dictator, and links between the leadership of the russian orthodox church and putin.
in february 2012, five members of pussyriot staged a performance in moscow’s cathedral of christ the savior church but were stopped by church security officials. by evening, they had turned it into a music video entitled punk prayer – mother of god, chase putin away! the women said their protest was directed at the orthodox church leader’s support for putin during his election campaign.
In march 2012, two of the group members were arrested and charged with hooliganism, and a third member was arrested on March 16. they were denied bail and held in custody until their trial began in late july. in august 2012, the court convicted the three members of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, and each was sentenced to two years imprisonment. two other members of the group, who escaped arrest after february’s protest, reportedly left russia fearing prosecution. in october 2012, following an appeal, one was freed on probation, her sentence suspended while the sentences of the other two women were upheld. in late October 2012,the other two were separated and sent to prison.
the trial and sentence attracted great criticism, particularly in the west. the case was adopted by human rights groups including amnesty international, which designated the women ‘prisoners of conscience.’ and wide range of musicians, too, including madonna, sting, and yoko ono. public opinion in russia was generally less sympathetic towards the women: putin stated that the band had ‘undermined the moral foundations’ of the nation and ‘got what they asked for.’ prime minister medvedev said he did not think the three members of Pussy Riot should have been sent to jail, but stressed that the release of the remaining two imprisoned members was a matter for the courts.
the article in the style section of the nytimes “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer,” spoke about the documentary broadcast on HBO of the band, portraying that no item of clothing is too freakish, goony or subversively charged to be hijacked by the style tribes. pussyriot is oppositional art, which is not a criminal offense. imprisoned for their confrontational performances against the church and criticism of the state, the free speech phenomenon is shown by filmmakers maxim pozdorovkin [russian] and mike lerner [brit] through clips and interview with ondi timoner & BYOD:
before pussyriot, religious fundamentalisms were better left to islam and other orientalist religions. since pussyriot, religious fundamentalism in russia seems to be have been uncovered. pussyriot was charged with violating church rule: inappropriate dress [yet they were fully dressed], revealing bare skin [what? their bare arms? the only skin visible?] wearing provocative masks [terrorist style?], disrespect for society [because they performed in a church where women are forbidden to go?].
pussyriot decided to go against the confluence of state and religion by performing their own church service in the church.
not so long ago, FEMEN, too, another group from the same geography, clamored and performed for similar rights, but they undressed for these issues instead. if femen seeks a nude image, baring it all, pussyriot seeks a veiled image or anonymity, the opposite of indecency- in a church especially. pussyriot seeks a voice, but not via lack of dress, but too much dress for most in these days of uncovering everything, right down from body, femen-style, to secrets- GCHQ and NSA style.