Pussy Riot Released in Sochi

PussyAs if the debacle of the Winter Olympics full of wild dogs, broken-down infrastructure and sewer-stained water were not enough, Russia has now to contend with the members of the punk band Pussy Riot being detained and then released in Sochi today. The controversial group has added another political notch in their constant backlash against the Russian government.

According to the Washington Post, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezha Tolokonnikova announced that they had been picked up by police in Sochi and detained for about four hours. They claimed to have been treated roughly during their detainment. The New York Times reported that the members were arrested in central Sochi and a story in USA Today stated that the members claimed to have been followed by police prior to being apprehended.

The women claim that a number of journalists and other activists were picked up in a sweep that they claim police reasoned was in response to a hotel robbery. In the van, Tolokonnikova appeared to have sent out a tweet stating “Putin Will Teach You How to Love Your Motherland.”

The band, comprised of approximately 11 members including Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova, has been in and out of jail as well as the media spotlight since January, 2012 when the group essentially debuted atop a monument in a snowy Red Square. In February, 2012 the band staged a guerrilla performance inside a Russian Orthodox church protesting Russian President Vladimir Putin for his oppressive policies regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights and feminism.

According to numerous interviews in East and West media, the band was formed in August 2011. Pussy Riot has released its music only on-line and even before the two members were released today, it was announced a new song is said to have been prompted by their Sochi incident.

Some have compared the band’s music and politics to Crass, a collective in the United Kingdom that was active in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Crass was founded by a man who named himself Penny Rimbaud and along with a number of friends was comprised of punk rock activists who espoused veganism, anarchism, feminism and a number of other ideals while attacking organized religion with a ferocity that led to album covers being banned. The collective was intended to be a self-sustaining community replete with buildings, printing presses, recording studio, gardens and most everything else.

Rimbaud presently carries on under the group name Last Amendment, a collective formed of jazz musicians, filmmakers and other artists.

Members of Pussy Riot, however, have instead named Riot Grrrl as their major influence. It is a movement out of the state of Washington started in the 1990s that produced a number of popular musicians and labels such as Kathleen Hanna and Kill Rock Stars.

The members of Pussy Riot are in their 30s and apparently remain active enough to prompt Putin’s Russia to harass and imprison them. The members are well-known for wearing colorful balaclavas and appearing suddenly to execute guerrilla performances. Critics in the mainstream press have deemed the band’s music as wretched, poorly recorded screams and noise.

The two members who were detained in Sochi today had been released from prison in December after an amnesty program forced the action. The women had been incarcerated for hooliganism after a number of public performances.

The two-minute video of the band’s debut in Red Square was posted on YouTube where the multiple-camera shoot remains a popular video.

It is unknown if Pussy Riot or its recently released members will stage any performances in Sochi after their release during the remainder of the Olympics.

By Randall Fleming
Follow Randall Fleming on Twitter: #BreweryObserver

Sources:
Washington Post
USA Today
NY Times

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