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2 Members of the Russian Band "P*ssy Riot" Speak out about Their Russian Prison Experience

I happened to see this article from NPR on Yahoo News. 2 members of a Russian band named "P*ssy Riot" were jailed 2 years ago for singing a song against Putin. They recently came to NYC to speak out against conditions in Russia. In this interview, they answer questions about their prison experience, and protesting in Russia. I find them to be courageous and inspiring. Here is the interview:

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P*ssy Riot: Prison Ordeal Will Help Us Fix Russia's System
February 06, 2014 5:00 AM
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Maria "Masha" Alyokhina (left) and Nadezhda "Nadya" Tolokonnikova of the Russian punk protest group P*ssy Riot speak onstage at an Amnesty International concert in Brooklyn, N.Y., Wednesday night.

Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images
Europe
After Prison Stint, P*ssy Riot Keeps Up Anti-Government Stand
Members of the punk protest band P8ssy Riot were just released from jail after spending nearly two years in a penal colony for a controversial performance at a Moscow church in 2012, but they are far from done fighting. Nadezhda "Nadya" Tolokonnikova and Maria "Masha" Alyokhina continue to be outspoken against human rights abuses in Russia, bringing the band's message to the U.S. for the first time.

While there have been protests against the Russian government before, it's a country where the political opposition is always struggling to build widespread support. But that doesn't seem to be stopping Nadya and Masha — both married, both moms, both unabashedly critical of Russian leaders, its government and now, its prison system.

Nadya, Masha and an interpreter stopped by NPR in New York City to talk with Morning Edition's David Greene, an interview they wound up cutting short — with apologies — because they needed to leave to turn their attention to helping some protesters facing charges at home.

But when they sat down in the studio, they began singing in Russian.

"It's a P*ssy Riot song called 'Putin Is Lighting the Fires of the Revolution,' " Nadya says. It's the song they wrote when they were being sentenced.


Maria "Masha" Alyokhina (left) of P*ssy Riot in New York City.

Quoctrung Bui/NPR
"He's clearly asking for a revolution," she says.

Interview Highlights

On life in a prison camp

i
Nadezhda "Nadya" Tolokonnikova of P*ssy Riot at the NPR studios in New York City.

Quoctrung Bui/NPR
Maria "Masha" Alyokhina: You go to work, and you watch people turning into obedient cogs in a machine that produces police uniforms. If anyone tries to decline to do this work or disagrees in some other way, they might get thrown in solitary or they might get beaten either by the prison guards or by other prisoners who work together with the prison administration and collaborate with them.

On whether, if they could rewind, they would perform at the church in 2012, which sparked their arrests

Nadezhda "Nadya" Tolokonnikova: We don't like to speculatively look back and think about what if. The only way to go is forward.

Masha: This might be hard to understand, but I'm actually grateful to the leadership of Russia for providing me with this experience of being in jail. I think I became a freer person as a result and understood many things that will now enable us to work on fixing this prison system.

[This freedom is] freedom as responsibility for your every step and gesture, freedom for choosing to act honestly and honorably, or dishonestly and dishonorably; freedom as in life.

On why it seems people in Russia aren't looking for an Arab Spring-type revolution

Masha: Russia isn't necessarily that different from any other country, but there are two factors that come into play: The first is that if you regularly have the protest beaten out of you by the riot police, of course it's natural that you will eventually back down and take a more passive stance. And the second is that people don't believe that change is possible in Russia, and I think one of the things that is vital to turn this situation around — because it can be turned around fairly quickly — but for that we need free media, we need free speech, we need channels that will give the opposition a voice.

On whether there will be more P*ssy Riot performances in Russia

Nadya: We are planning on going back to Russia, and the reason we are in a hurry to go right now is we have some very important things to do in support of those who are still jailed in connection with [another demonstration in Russia].

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Comment by Kenneth Fisher on February 11, 2014 at 3:52pm

Gil, re.: "Once a KGB always a KGB" wrong!  I know several ex-KGB Officers and an ex-Securitate Officer, and they despise and despised (my ex-Securitate Officer friend is now deceased) the KGB.  With God anything is possible! 

Securitate was the Romanian equivalent to the Russian KGB, my friend was sent to Russia for training and stayed at the same KGB hotel Clinton stayed at for his visit.  Congressman Bob Dornan was attacked for stating the truth about where Clinton stayed in Moscow!

May God have mercy on an amoral Amerika!

Viva Cristo Rey!

God bless, yours in Their Hearts,

Kenneth M. Fisher, Founding Director

Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc.


Moderator
Comment by Guardian Eagle on February 8, 2014 at 1:01am

Mark, I think the member posting this copied the title from the source and didn't change the proper name of the band from P**** Riot to P*ssy Riot themselves.

Whoever did was probably overly concerned with political correctness which is common these days. 

Regarding the name, I can't speak to the will of the admins here, but as a moderator I have no problem with the word used in this context, as a proper noun (name of the band). If it was used in a sentence to describe a woman's gentitals it would be deleted and the member warned, or if used in other negative context such as insulting a persons manhood, or any other crude, insulting or offensive way. 

This is my own personal opinion and unless instructed otherwise, I will moderate using these guidelines. 

Basically just use common sense, keep it clean and polite and we won't have any problems.

Comment by Suede on February 7, 2014 at 6:23pm
Skip,
The prisoners used to get free plastic surgery. The students needed practice, so the prisoners got free face lifts, etc.
it costs tacpayers a lot of money to house them.
Some come out and can't conform to society. Then they get a check from taxpayers.
Comment by Skip Peters on February 7, 2014 at 6:04pm
Suede, that a fact we have meeting every Friday and last week our local Sheriff spoke on the jail system and the prisoners get better health care then our elders on Medicare, prisoners get dental care paid by tax payers that's good to know so is our elders can't get help all they have to do is brake a window in the Police station and complain of tooth pain.
Comment by Buck Crosby on February 7, 2014 at 5:55pm

    I actually would PREFER the KGB over the new American GESTAPO that has materialized across the nation over the last twelve years os so following the passage of the NDAA after 9 / 11

Comment by Gil Payne on February 7, 2014 at 5:46pm

Once a KGB always a KGB

Comment by Suede on February 7, 2014 at 5:04pm
Skip,
You are probably right. Definitely, we will have to foot their healthcare. We are having to take care of prisoners healthcare.
I can see that working out well. We pay their healthcare premiums while they are incarcerated. They get out and have to pay their own. That really will make them go straight---- back to jail!
Comment by Louise Barnes on February 7, 2014 at 4:37pm
I was glad that these 2 were given a chance to appear on NPR for a few reasons. 1) Many young people in America have no idea what it is like to live in a Communist country. Maybe they will at least get a more realistic view of it than what our socialist professors/H.S. teachers tell them (about Communism not being bad-like a Salon.com article that was out last week saying it was Stalin who was bad, but not Communism) 2) We often hear of "life in the old Soviet Union" which gives the impression that things are much better, more free in Putin's Russia. These 2 girls are saying "it is still bad" to us. 3) These girls explain in this interview why the Russian People do not protest more- they Russian police beat up protestors. Under Obama, the same may soon happen to us!
Comment by Skip Peters on February 7, 2014 at 4:34pm
Suede, This might be true, but if Obama wants he will give them a free stay here in America and they will be put on Obamacare for free and Hollywood will give them a million dollar contract to play at the White House at every Muslim meeting.Thats better then Siberia and Putin wont care he will have these liberal band members out of his country.
Comment by Suede on February 7, 2014 at 3:54pm
They will be isolated in Siberia for speaking out.



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