Pussy Riot Behind Bars Again

Photo Courtesy of msnbc.com

Despite the international coverage regarding their punk band, members of Russian group Pussy Riot have been detained once again. When Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were convicted and arrested in 2012 for their feminist, anti-Putin lyrics and behaviors, they were forced to spend two years in Gulag-like penal colonies. Instead of serving a regular prison sentence, which they certainly did not deserve for a simple expression of freedom of speech, they were both brutally abused in labor camps.

Considered as “prisoners of conscience” by international organizations such as Amnesty International, they are not regarded as anything more than hooligan delinquents by Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin. Despite a lack of domestic support for Pussy Riot, the women quickly gained an international limelight that pressured the Russian leader to grant them amnesty. But despite the progress due to the pressure of international criticism, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova are once again the the targets of unreasonable punishments.

First, there was the takedown during the Olympics in Sochi. Anticipating a performance of their new song, “Putin Will Teach You To Love The Motherland”, policemen were quick to detain the two rebellious punks on February 18th alongside a journalist from Russia’s liberal newspaper, the Novaya Gazeta. Although they were subsequently released, all detainees were beaten and attacked. On what grounds, we ask?

Now, Russian forces are working on a larger scale to oppress protestors and demonstrators who disagree with Russia’s controversial stance on Kiev, human rights, and freedom of speech. During a mass anti-Putin protest last week, the Pussy Riot members were once again detained (and released) alongside more than two hundred other dissidents as they marched towards the Kremlin.

Despite the Russian government’s strong desire to suppress Pussy Riot’s voice with an iron hand, succeeding in doing so remains a challenge. After all, Pussy Riot has officially gone global. Behind them stand not only NGOs but many Western countries, that already find themselves quarreling with Russia regarding the situation in Kiev. So while Putin might try and teach you to love the motherland, Pussy Riot will force you to question it, behind bars or not.

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