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Whips and Tear Gas: Pussy Riot Attacked in Sochi

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Pussy Riot - Band or Social Movement?

Pussy Riot – Band or Social Movement? 

Earlier this week, six members of Pussy Riot – one man and five women – were attacked by Cossacks after protesting in Sochi, where the Winter Olympics are currently being held. In the video below you will see the protestors dancing and singing the Pussy Riot song Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland. They are subsequently attacked by Cossacks with whips and tear gas.

Two of the members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina – who have previously served prison sentences for protesting in a church in Moscow – were involved in Wednesday’s events. They attended the protest despite an open letter, published earlier this month by six other members, announcing that they were no longer part of Pussy Riot, as they had forgotten about the “aspirations and ideals of [the] group.”

Recently, the involvement of Cossacks in law enforcement has been promoted by Putin and regional leaders. Famed for their vigilante-style violence, Cossacks often used weapons such as whips and sabres in their attempts to enforce law. There is, however, no centralised power controlling or disciplining the groups of Cossacks across Russia. As such, there are opportunities for violent events to occur, often without legal redress.

Since arriving in Sochi this week, members of Pussy Riot have been subject to random arrests by local law enforcement, largely without provocation. This is presumably to try to prevent the conspicuous protests typical of Pussy Riot. The group are vociferous proponents of feminism and LGBT rights, and are in fierce opposition to Putin’s policies.

Are Russia’s reactions to protest groups in proportion to the threat they pose? Arguably, Russia is bringing greater attention to the cause of Pussy Riot and other groups with concomitant views due to the aggressiveness of its response. International attention is repeatedly drawn back to Russia’s poor human rights practices, and this will only spur on the movement that Pussy Riot is striving to maintain momentum for.

If you feel strongly about the issues raised here and would like to have your say, get in touch with Humanity Hallows at spommu@gmail.com

Sam Friend is a student at Manchester Metropolitan University, studying History and Politics. He is passionate about reading, writing, and music. Read his personal blog Relevant and Irreverent and follow him on Twitter here.

 

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