HRW.org Donate! Default

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

In the winter of 2011, after a controversial election, Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin as president of Russia. The vote followed months of mass protests that challenged Putin's rule. Around the same time, a group of young, radical-feminist punk rockers known as Pussy Riot took a stand against the direction Putin was taking Russia. Wearing colored balaclavas, tights, and summer dresses, they entered Moscow's most venerated cathedral and air-guitared their way through 40 seconds of "Mother Mary, Banish Putin!" British filmmaker Mike Lerner and Russian Maxim Pozdorovkin collaborate to chronicle the way one small act of protest captured global attention. Putting a personal face on rebellion, they follow three women prepared to defend their actions no matter what it may cost them.

 

The Russian government's actions against Pussy Riot were one of many signs of the Kremlin's unprecedented crackdown that Putin ushered in after his return to power. Documenting and seeking to end this crackdown is one of Human Rights Watch's top priorities. We analyzed how new laws restricting public protests and Internet content have undermined fundamental rights in Russia, and raised attention to new laws that seek to brand Russian groups that work on controversial issues as "foreign agents" and tar independent activists as enemies of the state. We documented a massive wave of invasive, punitive government inspections of Russian and foreign organizations, and advocated for the international community to urge Russia to foster a free civil society.