Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot brings their activism to Vancouver

Pussy Riot, in a promotional photo for the 2013 documentary A Punk Prayer.

Pussy Riot, in a promotional photo for the 2013 documentary A Punk Prayer.

Are you angry? Frustrated? Do you feel like things are spinning out of control? Are you eager to know what it’s like to live in a totalitarian regime?

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Pussy Riot.

Members of the controversial Russian punk rock band are coming to Vancouver. But the group’s Maria Alyokhina (Masha) and Alexandra Bogino (Sasha) won’t be playing music. Instead, they’ll appear onstage at the Rickshaw Theatre (254 E. Hastings St.) on Nov 21 to discuss politics, art, feminism, LGBTQ issues, prisoner’s rights, and, presumably, living under an authoritarian regime. Of course, any resemblance to life in North America will be completely coincidental.

Pussy Riot, you may recall, made news in 2012, when five members of the feminist punk rock group staged a performance at a Moscow church. The purpose of the performance was to protest the Orthodox Church leader’s support for Vladimir Putin.

As a result, the police arrested two of the group members, Nadezdha Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina. They arrested a third member two weeks later. All three were convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred,” and each was sentenced to two years imprisonment. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina served 21 months. Their ordeal is detailed in the 2013 documentary, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer.

Russian political activist and Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina.

Russian political activist and Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina.

Formed in 2011 in Moscow, the group has a variable membership of approximately 11 women, ranging in age from about 20 to 33. From the beginning they have staged unauthorized performances in unusual public locations. These are then edited into music videos and posted on the Internet, as well as reported widely by international media. Their lyrical themes include feminism, LGBT rights, opposition to the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom they regard as a dictator, and links between Putin and the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Alyokhina now travels the world as a speaker. On the tour coming to Vancouver, she is joined by Alexandra (Sasha) Bogino. Bogino works as a reporter in Mediazona, a news outlet that is connected with Zona Prava organization, which was founded by Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina. In 2014-2015, Bogino reported on several demonstrations in Moscow. She also wrote about trial of Nadya Savchenko, a Ukrainian female solider who was convicted in killing two Russian journalists during an air strike in Eastern Ukraine.

The two will be joined onstage for a panel discussion and q-and-a by moderator Denise Sheppard, a Canadian journalist.  The evening also includes a performance by JUST, which is described as “a grassroots indigenous punk collaboration between Secwepemc- Nuu-Chah-Nulth and Dakelh (Carrier) Warrior Sisters from what is now known as B.C., Canada.”

Tickets for the event are $ 25 + s/c online at ticketfly.com. They are also available at local record stores Red Cat Records (both locations), Zulu Records and Highlife Records.

Inside Vancouver Blog

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Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot brings their activism to Vancouver

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