Pussy Riot release new video targeting Russian government corruption

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Andrew Kramer

Wearing police uniforms and fishnet stockings, they whip hooded prisoners and waterboard them in their prison cells. The well-made-up women gleefully throw wads of cash into the air and flirt viciously with their viewers.

The Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot sashayed back into the public eye Wednesday with the release of a music video savaging the country’s prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika, who locked up three members of the group in 2012.

It is a black satire of the Russian criminal justice system, in which the women, playing prison guards, rap lustily about money and torture a man with hot clothes irons.

“I run the war on corruption here, or to be precise, I run the corruption,” the group’s leader, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, sings alluding to accusations of high-level wrongdoing in Chaika’s office.

Those accusations were brought by Alexei A. Navalny, the anti-corruption activist, late last year. Navalny suggested that Chaika’s son jointly owned a luxury hotel in Greece and villas in Switzerland with Olga Lopatina, the wife of a deputy prosecutor general.

Lopatina’s previous husband had ties to a notorious organised crime group in southern Russia, the Tsapok gang. Lopatina has denied the ties and sued Navalny.

Chaika denied wrongdoing. The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said he would not comment on allegations concerning the grown son of a federal official.

Tolokonnikova was one of three members of the protest group who were convicted in 2012 for performing a protest concert in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. Tolokonnikova and her bandmate Maria Alyokhina served a year and nine months in prison before they were released under an amnesty law before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Another member of the group, Yekaterina Samutsevich, had been released on parole.

In the video, Tolokonnikova plays, with a sly smile, Chaika, her old nemesis.

“I love Russia, I am a patriot, but I could live in Switzerland,” she sings.

The young women sway to the tinny rhythm, gorge on a lavish feast in a palatial setting and pout at the camera. One wears a bird mask, a reference to Chaika, whose name means “sea gull.” Tolokonnikova alternates between flapping her hands like wings and forming pistols with her fingers.

A framed portrait of President Vladimir V. Putin, the type that hangs in official offices here, looks down on Tolokonnikova as she eats a gold-painted loaf of bread. And there are subtle hints at life inside the Russian penal colony system, such as a checkerboard drawn on a table with spilled sugar. The game pieces are also lumps of sugar.

“Be humble, learn to obey, don’t worry about material stuff,” Tolokonnikova rhymes sarcastically.

“And son, if you do worry about material things in life, then be loyal to Putin forever, son,” she raps softly. “You want to get away with murder, be loyal to your boss.”

The New York Times

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