Pussy Riot – Rock and Roll Heroines

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Over the last few years the entertainment industry in Britain has cheerfully allowed itself to be conscripted by the Ministry of Defence writes Liam Mac Uaid. Its TV and music sectors have become transmitters of pro-war, pro-imperialism soft propaganda. It is hard to point to a credible musical opponent of the established order and becoming increasingly difficult to remember that music can be politically charged.

Russian agit-punk band Pussy Riot are the opposite of all that. Their music and performances are perhaps the most politically confrontational art in modern Europe. Vladimir Putin, the Russian kleptocracy and the craven leadership of the Orthodox Church are their targets. They are currently the victims of a show trial in Moscow where they are, for all practical purposes being tortured by sleep deprivation and lack of food. Their “offence” was to perform a song in a Moscow church which commented unfavourably on the hierarchy’s support for Putin. For this they have already spent months on remand and are potentially facing serious jail time. The Russian judiciary, which has all the fiery independence of a glove puppet, will give them the sentence that Putin wants.
Socialists, democrats and defenders of the freedom of expression have to demand their immediate release. The time they have spent in prison already far exceeds the seriousness of their alleged “crime”. Putin’s government is clamping down hard on the right of dissent in Russian society and this show trial is a shot across the bows of political activists and radical artists.

As the arrest of the Critical Mass cyclists at the Olympics shows, there is a growing intolerance of legitimate dissent across Europe. Pussy Riot are paying a heavy price for their three chord protests but they are singing for all of us.

  1. True, British music recently has been more than usually conformist,
    but what about the title track to Plan B’s successful album Ill Manors?
    http://www.nme.com/reviews/plan-b–3/13466
    or the 2009 album by Madness, The Liberty of Norton Folgate (esepcially the title track), also a film by Julien Temple (Suggs also appears in Temple’s new film London – Modern Babylon).

  2. Didn’t Madness perform at the party for Mrs Windsor’s jubilee? Pussy Riot are unlikely to get a similar gig in Putin’s Russia. And didn’t Plan B have his photo taken in a T shirt of the Nazi band Skrewdriver?

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