Pussy Riot Band Members Call for Anti-Kremlin Protests (Video)

Getty Images
Pussy Riot members during their 2012 Moscow trial on hooliganism charges

The film-noir clip urges unsanctioned street action near Moscow's Red Square following the sentencing of a prominent opposition leader

Members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot have released a YouTube video urging people to take to the streets to protest the sentencing of prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his brother.

Navalny, who was a key figure in mass protests against President Vladimir Putin's rule three years ago, was found guilty of fraud Tuesday morning in a case he has dismissed as an attempt to suppress dissidence.

Read more Pussy Riot Members Seek Compensation From Russia

The lawyer and anti-corruption campaigner was found guilty of stealing $513,000 (at current exchange rates) in a complex fraud case involving two companies, one an affiliate of French cosmetics giant Yves Rocher. He was sentenced to a suspended sentence of three and a half years, but in a move that critics dubbed cynical and politically engineered, his brother and co-defendant, Oleg, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.

Outside the court, Navalny, subject of The Term, a documentary that premiered at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in July, told waiting journalists: "The authorities are torturing and destroying relatives of their political opponents. This regime doesn’t deserve to exist; it must be destroyed."

Read more Russia: Hollywood Maintains Box Office Lead in 2014 Despite Ruble Woes

Sentencing in the case had been due Jan. 15 but was brought forward after tens of thousands signed up via Facebook and other social media sites to join protests scheduled for that day. Social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Russia's biggest social media site, Vkontakte, had been resisting Kremlin attempts to take down posts advocating the protests.

Pussy Riot's professionally produced film-noir-style 71 second clip asks people to gather Tuesday evening on a public square near Moscow's Red Square.

The video shows a group of young women dressed in 1920s-style clothes in a darkened, smoky room before taking Harry Potter-style broomsticks to sweep the snow from Red Square and flying over the impenetrable Kremlin walls, like witches, to a pounding bass sound track repeating the words, subtitled in English, "clean…fair [honest]…word…deed."

Unlike earlier videos the women who appear in the film are not masked. The scenes of a group of women brushing away snow near Red Square seems calculated to have been shot not to attract unwelcome attention: the elegantly, stocking and high-heel clad figures could easily be mistaken for the cast of a glossy magazine fashion shoot.

Read more Pussy Riot Members Launch Prisoners-Rights NGO

Two members of Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova  and Maria Alyokhina, both of whom appear in the video, with Nadezhda's voice clearly heard in the lyrics, were themselves sentenced to prison terms in 2012 in a case they claimed was politically motivated. They were released in December 2013.

The video, which calls for people to gather at 7 p.m. local time Tuesday near the Kremlin, had clocked up 21,600 views (as well as 460 likes and 163 dislikes) by mid-afternoon Moscow time Monday. A separate Facebook page calling for people to attend the demonstration had, by the same time, recorded more than 18,000 intending to participate. If that many people take to the streets of Moscow tonight, it will represent the biggest challenge to the Kremlin's authority since the mass protests of December 2011.

comments powered by Disqus