Two members of the group Pussy Riot.

Robert Caplin / The New York Times

Two members of the group Pussy Riot.

November 3, 2016

Russian Protest Group, Pussy Riot, Visits Cornell

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The Russian feminist punk rock protest group, Pussy Riot, spoke to an over capacity crowd at an event celebrating Punkfest Cornell, a week-long celebration of punk music and its history.

Pussy Riot, a female group based in Moscow, has “staged unauthorized provocative guerrilla performances in unusual public locations across Russia,” said a briefing for the event, which was hosted in Klarman Hall Wednesday.

Themes of the group’s videos include “feminism, LGBT rights, opposition to the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom they regard as a dictator, and links between Putin and the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church,” according to the briefing.

A documentary shown during the event highlighted the journey of Pussy Riot member and panelist, Maria Alyokhina, who was arrested and convicted to 21 months in jail after protesting the Orthodox Church leader’s support for Putin during his election campaign in 2012 at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

At the time, the public responded in solidarity with the group, bearing signs reading “Free Pussy Riot” and “Art is Freedom,” the video showed. In the courtroom, witnesses often broke into applause after hearing her words, rebuffing authority figures who said that she was court, not a theatre.

In the panel on Wednesday, Alyokhina was alongside Alexandra Bogino, a collaborator with Pussy Riot and reporter for MediaZona, “an independent news outlet that reports on the courts, law enforcement and prison system in Russia.”

According to another panelist Alexander Sasha, Mediazona has been transformed “small underground news source,” growing to become “one of the most powerful news sources in Russia.”

On March 9, 2016, the Committee for Prevention of Torture, which included Mediazona employees, experienced a violent attack during which a van was burned and many people beaten.

One month later, the “very independent news outlet” ranked between seventh and ninth place among the top Russian news sources, according to fellow panelist Alexander Sasha.

Bogino stressed the difficulty of operating in Russia, where there is so much violence and so many victims of violence, but also said this climate made a small team reporting about these events very influential.

“We now have activists, performers, LGBT that don’t exist for the government,” Bogino said.

Alyokhina said she does not stand out or alone for the work she has done, asserting that all have a choice to become advocates.

“I’m not something unique or special. Everybody has a story and everybody in different situations has to make a choice: to act or to stay aside,” Alyokhina said. “Don’t stay aside otherwise your history will be written by someone else.”

2 thoughts on “Russian Protest Group, Pussy Riot, Visits Cornell

  1. Read up on events in Russia and be very thankful to be here and not there. Might even inspire some to stand for national anthem.

    Btw who killed Anthony Nazaire? What is Sun’s opinion on investigation?

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