Pussy Riot Prison Platform [VIDEO]

jailed

In 2011, an anonymous Russian performance art group- with a moderate slant on Feminism- was formed by approximately 11 women. With peaceful public protests, the group set out to call attention to the oppression of Russian women and that the rights of free expression and gender equality were being ignored or infringed upon. The group tried to redefine the stagnant, outdated rules and to out the Russian parliament whenever possible. The group has made their quiet voices heard. Prison however, has become a louder platform for the group now known as Pussy Riot, producing an even greater following that has reached beyond local awareness to a world-wide audience.

Currently, two members of the political anti-Putinist punk group, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, are serving a two-year term in prison charged with hooliganism. Arrested for singing a protest song critical of President Vladimir Putin at a Russian Orthodox cathedral, the group has had an outpouring of support. Groups like Amnesty International have become heavily involved in fighting for their release. The universal coverage of these two women has sparked widespread controversy and shed new light on the persecutions in their homeland.

Maria Alekhina, a 24 year-old mother and student played a very active role in the trial for Pussy Riot. She was responsible for cross-examining many of the witnesses and she put up an aggressive battle against the charges brought against the group. Living as a vegan, Maria collapsed during trial at one point because no vegan food options were offered in prison. Since her collapse, she has been on at least one other hunger-strike to protest against deplorable prison cruelties.

Using prison as a platform for protest is a familiar tactic for Alekhina’s band mate and friend, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who is serving her term in another Russian work-camp. Tolokonnikova has won the right to a transfer to a new prison, thus ending her most recent hunger strike. She had almost died earlier this month from a self-imposed fast protesting the slave-labor conditions at the prison. Tolokonnikova began to eat again once officials assured her that she would receive a transfer. When authorities became aware of how ill she had become they promised her the transfer she wanted. The promise was later broken leading the punk princess to start her most recent hunger strike. Prison officials responded almost immediately, perhaps due to international attention and bad publicity; and although a new prison has not yet been named, sources seem to think that this time the government’s promise will be kept.

Tolokonnikova, a 23 year-old mother and philosophy student, has also been a member of the Voina collective since 2007. Voina is a Russian art group known for its politically charged street art. The group has had over a dozen criminal charges brought against them including a handful for vandalism. Tolokonnikova has spent her time in the Russian camp continuing her protests and becoming a vocal advocate for prisoners’ rights.

As the two women bide their time and expose prison violations, file complaints and organize self-inflicted hunger strikes, their loyal followings of both ordinary citizens and of human-rights organizations continue to petition for the release of the two artists. Although they are confined, these two members of Pussy Riot have maintained their representative statuses at the forefront of a movement; and they have managed to turn up the volume, to rally their supporters and to use the prison as a most deafening platform for social change.  Free Pussy Riot!

 

Editorial written by: Amy Magness Whatley

@tomsfoolery74

 

Amnesty International

Prison Promises

Pussy Riot Info

Prison Slave-camp

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