60 Minutes: Punk Band Pussy Riot Vs Russian President Vladimir Putin

ADVERTISEMENT

60 Minutes: Russian President

Russian President Vladimir Putin has attacked the freedoms of his people while in office. In 2012, he was re-elected and ramped up his crackdown efforts. Maybe the best known protestors to find themselves the targets of his initiatives are the female protest band Pussy Riot.

Their March 2012 protest in a large Moscow cathedral has led to some severe consequences. They are now the faces of dissent in the country, and their story was told on 60 Minutes.

ADVERTISEMENT

60 Minutes: Pussy Riot Punk Band Protest

Their well-known protest lasted less than a minute. In their trademark masks, called Balaclavas, they sang a prayer that Putin be removed from power. Their obscene lyrics called out the Russian president before they were shut down by government officials.

Two members of the band were put in labor camps. Now two others are in hiding. But Katya Samutsevich served seven months after being convicted and was released. She spoke with Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes.

60 Minutes: Russian Government Oppressive?

60 Minutes: Punk Band Pussy Riot Vs Russian President Vladimir Putin

60 Minutes explored the story of Russian punk protest band Pussy Riot. Some band members were imprisoned after a 2012 protest that made international news. (arindambanerjee / Shutterstock.com)

ADVERTISEMENT

Katya said that she has no regrets, especially as the government grows more repressive. She added that the elections were illegitimate, and she is in favor of the government’s overthrow, by peaceful means.

Katya is a computer engineer, but she felt called to protest in Russia, including viral videos of her surprising female officers with kisses in public places.

60 Minutes: Russia’s Arab Spring

Their band was formed during what has been called “Russia’s Arab Spring,” a protest as Putin was up for re-election. They encouraged riots and screamed profanities in public demonstrations to get attention.

Stahl questioned why the dozen or so obviously intelligent women in the group would be so crude. Katya explained that they deliberately chose the language of punk as a means of getting attention. I guess that goal has been successful.

60 Minutes: Free Pussy Riot

The Kremlin cracked down after the church performance, which became an Internet sensation. The pursuit of the women also got high profile media attention, with pleas from the cartoon South Park and celebrities like Madonna calling for their release.

Russia’s own Gary Kasparov, the chess pro, knows a thing or two about running afoul of Putin. Kasparov said that the band’s actions were not blasphemous, but courageous.

60 Minutes: Hooliganism Charges

Stahl delved into the crimes with which the band members were charged. Apparently it was hard to come up with things. A Russian scholar said they were eventually charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hate,” adding that the faithful would have looked down on a light sentence.

It sounds like they were used as an example to prevent potential violence. While on trial, band members were openly defiant.

60 Minutes: Russian Punk Band

Katya said it was clear that their trial was unfair, and they refused to beg for leniency since they were innocent. The women were at one time displayed in a cage for the media and the public to witness.

One of the girl’s husbands said that the two-year sentences were shocking. But he said that he had to face the reality with a smile, and people around the world have been supportive.

60 Minutes: Gary Kasparov Russian Protests

Kasparov and dozens of others were arrested in protests following the trial verdict. The chess pro said that this was a landmark case, because it illustrated how any threat to Putin is now against the law in Russia.

A government official responded to the perception of an overreaction on the part of the government. He said that the government is concerned about how the country is being perceived internationally, and the fallout has caused problems with travel and investments for the country.

60 Minutes: Russian Prison Camps

Band members Nadia and Maria are still in prison work camps. Nadia’s husband took 60 Minutes along on a seven-hour drive to see his wife on a prison visit. She has only seen their daughter once since her sentencing.

Her husband said that they were more focused on changing the course of history. One of the two women still in hiding also spoke with 60 Minutes. She was the band’s drummer.

60 Minutes: Pussy Riot Band Future

Kot spoke with 60 Minutes, in costume and with a disguised voice. The band Pussy Riot is still practicing in private.

She said that her parents were not too proud of her. Kot said she hid from authorities and has managed to keep a low profile. But she knows that granting a TV interview could cause problems for her and be seen as a protest.

60 Minutes: Russian Power & Protest

Kot said that what happened to her and her bandmates was unacceptable, and she did not want her voice to be silenced. Nadya and Maria may soon be paroled.

Putin remains in power and supposedly popular with the people. But Katya is confident that the band can still make an ongoing impact.

ADVERTISEMENT

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.