Punk Prayer For Freedom To Protest

***** Riot is an "anonymous" Russian feminist performance art collective who has given a  voice to basic rights under threat in Russia today, while expressing the values and principles of gender equality, democracy and freedom of expression contained in the Russian constitution and other international instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the CEDAW Convention.

Founded in August 2011, it consists of approximately 12 members, who wear brightly colored balaclavas and use only nicknames during interviews. They stage unannounced "illegal"  provocative performances about Russian political life in unusual and unauthorized locations. These performances are edited into videos and posted on the internet.

On February 21, 2012, five members of the group staged a performance on the soleas of Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.


Their actions were stopped by church security officials. By evening, they had turned it into a music video called “Punk Prayer: Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!”


On March 3, two of the group members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were arrested and charged with  “premeditated hooliganism performed by an organized group of people motivated by religious hatred or hostility”,  A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was arrested and charged with the same offenses on March 15. All were Denied bail and held in Custody. On June 4, formal charges against the group were presented, the indictment running to 2,800 pages. 

At the beginning the  trial aroused little sensation in Russia and was a non- event internationally.The band members only started to gain noticeable attention, both within Russia and internationally, when allegations of harsh treatment in custody, and the risk of a seven-year jail sentence were made public. 

Their trial started on 30 July in Moscow's Khamovnicheskii District Court,  ***** Riot said their protest was a political statement, “We sang part of the refrain ‘Holy ****’,” Tolokonnikova said in court. “I am sorry if I offended anyone with this. It is an idiomatic expression, related to the previous verse — about the fusion of Moscow patriarchy and the government. ‘Holy ****’ is our evaluation of the situation in the country. This opinion is not blasphemy” but, prosecutors said the band was trying to “incite religious hatred” against the Orthodox Church

On August 15, protesters gathered in support of ***** Riot at Christ the Saviour Cathedral, and held up placards reading Blessed are the merciful. They were quickly set upon by cathedral guards.

Amnesty International said it believed that the trial of the ***** Riot defendants – Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova – was politically motivated, and that they were wrongfully prosecuted for what was a legitimate – if potentially offensive – protest action.

The organization considers all three activists to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs. 

The Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners (NGN) recognized Mary Alekhin, Hope and Catherine Tolokonnikova Samutsevich political prisoners
“What Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samutsevich did was calculated to shock - and did shock many. But in sentencing them to two years’ imprisonment, Russia has set the limits of freedom of expression in the wrong place.” 

In June, more than 200 Russian cultural figures, well-known writers, musicians and actors, among others, signed an open letter in support of Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samutsevich. It was then posted on the Echo Moskvy radio web site and collected around 45,000 further signatures. 

Also in June, a group of Orthodox believers sent an open letter to Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, asking for mercy for the three arrested women. 

In August, a group of lawyers published an open letter in which they stated that the actions of the three women could not be qualified as a crime and that bringing charges against them was in violation of the Russian law.   

Despite the great out cry and support they recieved, On August 17, 2012 (yes folks the trial lasted all of  8 days) , the three members were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, and each was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

The case, final judgment and sentencing  generated a wide debate on blogs, social networks and in the media about freedom of expression, the place of the Church in a modern secular state and the independence of courts. 

Some suggest that “clueless” non-Russians are simply unable to understand that what might be seen in their countries as “provocative political protest” is seen in Russia as considerably more serious. Some people even seem to think these young women are getting their just desserts.

I don't argue that the issue isn't  complex.  Indeed it is but,  for me it ultimately comes down to the inter-relationship between government and church in a country that doesn’t want to address the issue, any more than our countries want to address the issue and the need for and power of free speech.

And for me the division of church and state nor the issue of freedom of speech is not a " Russian issue" and isn't just a "Feminist Issue"  The ***** Riot women, could just as well have been me or you or anyone who believes and values separation between church and state and dares to express those views.

“I am not afraid of you. I am not afraid of you and I am not afraid of the thinly veneered deceit of your verdict at this ‘so-called’ trial. My truth lives with me. I believe that honesty, free-speaking and the thirst for truth will make us all a little freer. We will see this come to pass.”  ~~~Marina Alyokhina (***** Riot)

All is not lost and currently appeals have been filed, if you would like to help or learn more about these women and their cause please visit the links below.


The Voice Project is working directly ***** Riot, their international support and legal defense teams andFreePussyRiot.org to help process donations and raise money for the ***** Riot Legal Defense Fund. 100% of the proceeds to The Voice Project from the items sold here go directly into that fund.




Vivagalore Vivagalore
31-35, F
5 Responses Sep 10, 2012

uhhh...when does SuperPutin and the Justice League come in then?

***** Riot....this wasn't the first time they did blasphemy in the church.One of them was involved in another performance few years ago - it was about getting rid of all the gay people,Jews and foreign workers in Russia.And another was involved in a performance which was basicaly **** in the museum.It's all on you tube.<br />
They are stupid ***** and attention seekers,but England the ***** demands human rights.Just like they give political asylum to many Chechen war criminals,who are up to their sleeves in blood,but they also seek to find a way to eliminate Assange,who talks too much.<br />
And you are buying all that crap...

I am disapointed in your comment, I won't censor you or jail you for vandalising my story, because of course EVERYONE knows better than that. "stupid *****" &lt;---- this rhetoric shame's only the accuser, don't debase yourself. "attention seekers", they admit to using shock and publicity stunts to bring thought and attention to various causes, the fact that until this incident they remained intentionally anonymous by covering their faces, so as to only draw the attention to their causes without involving fame for their-selves maktes the motivations quite apparent. l find it funny you accuse them of THE EXACT SAME THINGS Putin has alleged "The Russian president then described a series of political stunts that SOME of the jailed WOMEN were INVOLVED IN BEFORE they formed ***** Riot. Referring to acts of performance art carried out in previous years by another group of dissident artists, the collective known as Voina, or “War” in Russian, Mr. Putin said: First, in case you never heard of it, a couple of years ago one of the band’s members put up three effigies in one of Moscow’s big supermarkets, with a sign saying that Jews, gays and migrant workers should be driven out of Moscow. I think the authorities should have looked into their activities back then. After that, they staged an **** in a public place. Of course, people are allowed to do whatever they want to do, as long as it’s legal, but this kind of conduct in a public place should not go unnoticed by the authorities. Mr. Putin’s description of Voina’s supermarket performance appeared to invert the meaning of stunt — the artists were trying to draw attention to what they called government policies encouraging anti-Semitism, xenophobia and homophobia, not endorsing those sentiments." You sir seem to be the one who is firmly "buying" the crap. Finally, are any of the women in jail because of those false allegations of the past? No. They are in JAIL for THIS SINGLE performance, so what may or may not have happened in the past is not relevant to this post.

everything is connected to the past.You want to promote this single incident as something that places black spot on Russia.But everything has origins.The pattern of their behaviour just shows who they are and what they stand for.
If you want to talk about human rights,just look at censorship in the media in your country.
Finally you fail to understand that American dream doesn't work in other countries.Slavic nations are rebellious and without strict rules our countries would plunge into chaos.
Those ***** will be released soon enough,but this is just an example to all of those who would like to follow their example.
Is it fair ? No.But you have to understand that in many cultures collective rights are more important than individual rights.Otherwise we have selfish,greedy society like Merika.

The laws of Russia allowed for public protest and dissent, The president you so proudly parrot admitted in his own words that this wasn't a "legal" issue but one of "morality"... The only reason it was allowed to be tried in court was because it was labeled "religious hate" and not "political dissent/protest"... The lyrics to the song are clearly anti-Putin... This was a straw-man attack orchestrated by Putin to send a warning to any who publicly oppose him... Your " westerners don't understand the Russian culture" accusation is a played out parroting as well, Russia has made its own laws, influenced by it's own culture... these women are jailed and in the meantime your moral leader Putin has directed people to protest "***** Riot" by "sawing crosses" he has also banned the wearing of balaclavas because it is a "danger"... You may not want "the american dream" but, turning some band of punk women singers into a scapegoat for religious intolerance in a very obvious attempt to further limit the constitutional rights of its citizens is offensive to all people of all cultures.

&lt;------ understand that America also bares fault, Putin trades oil for blood and America freely accepts those terms lest it ever want for more oil.

There you go !
I am not a Russian,but I strongly agree with Putin,because Russia rises up since he came to power and he is very pragmatic person.
This hysteria was never about some silly girls - it's about Syria,price of Russian natural gas and Anti missile shield system.It's all part of a play.
Regarding the "performance" - I was hurt,as Orthodox Serb,to see such blasphemy.I felt very sad.I f every **** can insult your deepest values - what are you than ?

so who's aircrafts were in Iraq,Lybia,Afghanistan,Japan,Italy ,Germany,Kosovo etc...Putin's or Obama's ?
Who says nothing about awful human rights in Saudi Arabia or Nigeria,but makes media explosions at every incident in Russia ?

I think your insistence on using the word "****" after being politely being asked to refrain from that is a testament as to who a person is. The actions of another have no bearing on the nature of other persons. A person may be jailed but can only be held captive by their own will. I never called you a "russian"... I am sorry you hold your values so low that "every ****" can trample them and cause you such hurt. I find it best to hold your values a little higher than that, maybe that ability and that care in ownership of ones values is just a "western" thing.

Are you insulted that your beloved Putin is sawing up crosses ?

I have never excused the atrocities of any other country. However, this post and this discussion is about the 3 women of ***** riot who were jailed after staging a non-violent provocative performance in a church as a form of political dissent... and being jailed for 2 years and found guilty of trying to "incite hatred of religion" and "hooliganism". So Syria, oil, and the terrors committed by other world leaders is of no concern regarding this issue.... those other crimes are not excused or denied, they just aren't relevant to this discussion.

I don't like Putin as Chuck Norris or something.I like his results and his opinion.
And I'm a bit upset because this is our backyard.No one should come to our backyard and tell us what we should do.Mind your own business guys.You have problems of your own.

ok,if you put it like that,it is very simple :
It is a serious crime in Orthodox society,specially because our Church was almost incognito in communist times.It is one of the most filthy forms of hooliganism and they will spend 6 month in prison for it.I think it's fair.
Or you think that a church,kindergarten or hospitals are places where people should publicize their political views ?

I think the choice of venue is distasteful, which is why they chose it in the first place... they wanted publicity and this was an easy way to get it, the exploited the weakness of the Russian sentiment towards religion and used it to garner attention to their cause... I think as well they were calling attention to the fact that they felt Putin was controlling the church or if not controlling it, at least he was trading favors with the church... they wanted to point out that despite claims and laws to the contrary the separation of church and state was being violated...I am sensitive to the suffering experienced under communist rule... however, I don't feel that 3 drama starting punk girls really posed a threat to the church. The Orthodox Church was unfairly punished and silenced by fanatical tyrannical government, they should be sensitive to the dangers of oppression and should not support Putin doing the same things to those girls as Communism did to them. I have supported or spoke out against various attacks on various people, from the Memphis 3, the death penalty and Syria etc... I do not feel these women had a fair trial, I believe they are not guilty of trying to "incite hatred and violence against religious persons" and I feel like 2 years for being obnoxious and having poor taste in choice of venue and manner of spreading their message is not proportionate. I do believe though that they should make reparations to the church in the manner of community service and a monetary fine.

Do you know that you just used the same arguments that su*icide terrorists use when they do the things that they do ? Is it telling you something ?
There is a proper place and time for everything.***** Riot is just a bunch of stupid kids,Kasparov is a guy who oposes the way it should be done.
And monetary fine is not enough.They have to be sent in jail.

I think you are incorrect on your statement that i am supporting the tactics of the suicide bombers. I understand you are trying to draw a connection between me saying the girls did it to get attention.... the difference is they protested in a non-violent way... they caused no physical harm to the church or to its believers. ***** riot seeks attention through shocking, suicide bombers seek attention through violence and fear... surely you are not suggesting that osama bin laden and ***** riot are the same thing or that they employ the same tactics... russian law does not allow for jail time for singing in a church about putin even if they use crass language or have poor taste

Ironically most suicide bombers come from totalitarian theocratic countries, Islamist States in many cases which heavily limit the rights of individuals. 21 that have state-enforced blasphemy laws, 9 that proscribe death for blasphemy, these being: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, Mauritania, Oman, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Gaza. And another 12 that proscribe imprisonment for blasphemy, these being: Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Morocco, Somalia, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates.

I just said that the use the same reasoning when they want to justify their actions.
Stupid punk girls and Osama are not the same thing of course.
Yes.i think you are right.Democratic countries should encourage blasphemy.Just like they allow racism masked under the freedom of speech.We should also encourage drug abuse and *********,because it is very important to some people.

the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and the right is commonly subject to limitations, as with libel, slander, obscenity,copyright violation and incitement to commit a crime.

The right to freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the ICCPR states that "everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference" and "everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice". Article 19 goes on to say that the exercise of these rights carries "special duties and responsibilities" and may "therefore be subject to certain restrictions" when necessary, limitations to freedom of speech follow the "harm principle" or the "offense principle", for example in the case of ***********, religious belief or hate speech. Limitations to freedom of speech may occur through legal sanction or social disapprobation, or both.

I don't recall these girls engaging in **********, drug use or racism... in fact they spoke out against racism in the incident you previously brought up.

I am unsure as to how freedoms granted in a secular government, or a secular democracy "encourage blasphemy, racism, drug abuse or **********" I have seen no evidence of this.

I have a different view of the role of any government, including democratic ones, and I believe in the separation of church and state.

I do also believe it is the duty of a devout parishioner to accept and follow the creeds and doctrine of their faith. The church stated "Without subjecting the rightfulness of the court's decision to any doubt, we call on the state authorities to show mercy to the people convicted within the framework of the law" aren't you as a devout follower required to respect and support all decisions of "any person or thing worthy of exalted esteem"? Are those that sell or trade God for political gain "worthy of exalted esteem"? After all, in matters of blasphemy is not your loyalty to lie with God above all else? Surely, God is not merely the relationship between a few elite church members and Putin? Maybe it is best if we leave this matter to the only person who is fit to judge? Surely, God is can handle these three obnoxious rabble rousers ! Don't let simple girls with simple songs have such a reaction, the reaction is where their power lies. I do hope you don't let this incident cause you any greater sadness or concern, as it stands these girls are being punished in a manner which you feel is justified, surely this should be enough to put your trouble to ease? My opinion shouldn't cause you any distress as it won't grant any pardons or unlock and jail cells. You've gotten what you feel is justice, whether or not I agree with it being justice is irrelevant is it not?
&lt;------ finds that someone who says controversial things all the time and uses the word "******" and "faggotry" doesn't believe in freedom to offend or free speech very ironic

&lt;-------- has nothing left to say on this subject.

are you upset ?

no! are you?

damn well I am ! I feel very sleepy and I must go to work.And it looks like it's going to rain

Yikes!!! Do you think they shall hold ***** riot in the black dolphin prison??? lmao

too bad Putin banned wearing hats, that might have at least kept you warm

no ***** in Russian prisons.Once you go to the jail,you don't have any rights

I mean where the girls will be doing their time... in Black Dolphin.

it's male prison.
And just because you have an opinion and you are clever - it doesn't mean that I would sleep with you.

Good I only sleep with men who believe in my right to free speech... i am a vocal lover.

send me a tape with your screams and moans recorded and I will think about it

No way I take the lords name in vain frequently... and Putti will jail me for sure!

@ lowrider lmao I love you!

yep....one **** ,one lesbian....but it's a free world

Awh Maj don't be jealous because you can't scissor....

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http://*****-riot.livejournal.com/ there blogsite

I heart ***** riot.

oh yea i heard greenday talking about this band