Pussy Riot the story so far

Three members of Pussy Riot sentenced in a Stalin-era show trial for a protest in Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, what was at worst a misdemeanour. One has been released on appeal, the remaining two sent to penal colonies, the modern-day equivalent of Gulags.

A conventional demonstration, a march, is very easy to put down. What is far, far harder to deal with is creative protest. We have seen this in the UK with UK Uncut. Had they held a protest outside Vodafone HQ it would have had zero impact. Instead they occupied Vodafone shops and connected with consumers who were none too happy on learning of their tax dodging and many asked to join in the occupation.

Trade Unions having a mass demo, a local Amnesty group standing in the street and collecting a handful of signatures on a petition, no longer works.

That is why Pussy Riot have been so successful. The reaction of the system was to put them in prison, even though the worst that should have happened was a slap on the wrist or a token fine, has spectacular backfired, not a day goes by without some event taking place in support of Pussy Riot. Vladimir Putin cannot appear anywhere on the world stage without being questioned about Pussy Riot.

Yes, we need to worry about the two girls held in penal colonies, but what we need to be even more concerned with is the crackdown on opposition, the assassination of critics, the arrest of opposition leaders, the blocking of internet sites.

This video has arisen out of a ‘Pussy Riot in Parliament‘ event held in the Houses of Parliament, organised by MP Kerry McCarthy (15 October 2012).

The proceedings focused on readings of the three defendants’ closing statements & was followed by a panel discussion on the Pussy Riot case and, more broadly, the role of the arts in political protest.

The panel discussion was chaired by Louder Than War boss John Robb & featured Joan Smith (novelist, journalist, and human rights campaigner); Dorian Lynskey, (author of 33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs); and Chris Bryant, (MP for Rhondda).

During the evening a film crew started making a film about Pussy Riot. The film has now been completed & features the Pussy Riot women themselves (and, of course, their music) interspersed with input from all the panelists & especially Kerry McCarthy herself as she has a unique insight into the case as she not only attended part of the trial but also met some of the members of Pussy Riot.

The video, made by Max Vegliois & Moe Ahmed, has just been completed & Louder Than War, who were one of the first places in the UK to cover Pussy Riot’s case, have been granted an exclusive on it.

Accompanying the video come these notes:

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, two members of the punk collective Pussy Riot have been sent to remote prison camps to serve their sentences.

Both were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for performing a punk prayer at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow.

They will now serve the rest of their terms in the camps where conditions are reportedly terrible.

Kerry McCarthy MP, Dorian Lynskey, Joan Smith and John Robb recount Pussy Riot’s remarkable rise.

With thanks to:
Kerry McCarthy, Labour Member of Parliament – @KerryMP
Dorian Lynskey, Guardian Music Writer – @Dorianlynskey
Joan Smith, Author and Columnist – @polblonde
John Robb, Musician and Writer – @johnrobb77

Producer/ Director: Mohammed Ahmed – @mohammedahmed41
Producer/Director: Max Veglio – @maxveglio
Editor: Nick Lewis
Graphics Designer: Robin Littlewood

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