Pussy Riot’s laughter in the face of Putin – Picture This #16

Pussy Riot, photograph by Igor Muk

For those of you who haven’t been following the news, three members of Moscow’s feminist punk band Pussy Riot – pictured above – were today jailed for 2 years for “hooliganism”, following their performance of an anti Vladimir Putin song inside a Moscow Cathedral. The BBC has a report here.

Pop Lifer visited Moscow earlier this year and spent some time exploring its strange and oddly charming subterranean gay scene. Many of the people we met had until recently lived in St Petersburg and had come to Moscow to escape the illiberalism and dangerous authoritarianism they felt rising in Russia’s second city, as best exemplified by the laws St Petersburg had enacted making the “promotion of homosexuality” criminal. This in effect meant the legalised oppression of St Petersburg’s already tiny, fragile gay community.

As today’s Pussy Riot verdict demonstrates, Moscow is now proving just as thuggish in its oppression of dissent and minority viewpoints. Indeed, in today’s Russia there is nowhere to hide from a state that seems to be dropping any last pretence of being a liberal democracy.

The image above is vibrant, playful, colourful, anarchic – all the things which Putin’s grey and authoritarian Russia is not. It is a sign of the real fear that many Russians understand all too well that the masks were considered necessary. Those masks are gone now, and for the last months of this show trial these three courageous women -Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 – have sat in court with their faces revealed, often wearing smiles. The only good news from today’s reports is that the three women were able to laugh as the verdict came in.

God knows how terrifying the idea of a stay in Russia’s notorious prison system must be, but laughter has always been the thing which frightens dictators most. The last few months have seen many well known figures from Madonna to Sting to Bjork publicly support Pussy Riot and now it’s time for the rest of us to join them. Join the Amnesty International campaign to free Pussy Riot and protest against the Russian state’s treatment of its own people here.

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About PopLifer

bloggists at www.poplifer.com
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