What’s The Deal With Pussy Riot?

Photo: (Getty)

The name “Pussy Riot” is enough to get anyone’s attention, but if you’re not sure why you keep hearing this name lately, we’ve got the deets.

+Who is Pussy Riot?

Pussy Riot is a feminist punk band in Russia that recently got in trouble for criticizing Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. After that, three members were arrested and sentenced, and many people are saying this violates freedom of speech rights.

+What did the band do?

Last February five members of Pussy Riot put on a short concert/protest at Christ Savior Cathedral where they sang, “Mother Mary, please drive Putin away.” Shortly after that three members (Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich) were arrested and put into detention. They were found guilty of “hooliganism” (yes, you can be found guilty of that) and sentenced to two years in prison.

+What is the controversy?

While not everyone is happy with how the girls acted (some members of the Russian Orthodox Church, for example, were offended by the display), there has been an international outcry on the girls’ behalf. The Obama administration has denounced the sentence, and fellow musicians are up in arms. Madonna, who might have to pay $10.5 million for thumbing her nose at St. Petersburg’s gay pride ban, said about Pussy Riot, “Even if one disagrees with the location or how they chose to express themselves, the sentence is too harsh and in fact is inhumane. I call on all those who love freedom to condemn this unjust punishment.”

+Which other celebs are supporting them?

Beatles fans will be happy to know Paul McCartney has come out in their support, and so have Bjork, Black Keys, Beastie Boys, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Rise Against, which was nominated for “Best Video With A Message” at the VMAs, is also supporting the girls. Maybe Rise Against’s next vid will be about Pussy Riot?

+What’s the latest update on the band?

Two other members of Pussy Riot have evacuated Russia, but that doesn’t mean the fight is over for them. According to Twitter, they’re “[r]ecruiting foreign feminists to prepare new actions.” Meanwhile, the sentenced members of Pussy Riot are appealing their convictions.

Photo: (Getty)

+Whoa. How can I help?

Along with all the international help, Samutsevich said they’re also getting support from cellmates. “This isn’t surprising,” she said, “because now only blind people can’t see that since March 2012, Putin’s regime has moved to direct repressive actions, starting with a major campaign against all dissenters, under which our group was one of the first to fall.” If you want to support Pussy Riot please sign the Amnesty International pledge below to stop the criminal persecution of Pussy Riot and protect free expression.

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