Pussy Riot’s Members Have Been Jailed by the Russian Government for Hooliganism

Pussy Riot performs during the Solidarity of Arts Festival in Gdansk, Poland on 23 August 2019. Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

After initially being arrested in June, Masha Alekhina, Sasha Sofiev, Ann Kuzminikh, and Veronika Nikulshina of Pussy Riot, the Russian dissident performers and protestors, have been re-arrested. The charges some of the group’s members face include arguing with a police officer, swearing in public and “petty hooliganism;” Lucy Shtein, another one of the group’s members, has been placed under a nightly curfew after being imprisoned for 15 days. These episodes certainly aren’t the first instances wherein Pussy Riot has run into trouble with the law: back in January, three of the group’s members were arrested after protesting against the jailing of Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny.

In 2012, Pussy Riot performed a song criticizing Vladimir Putin inside a Christian Orthodox church in Moscow; predictably, they were arrested and charged with hooliganism and imprisoned for two years. After being released, the group again had a run-in with the police at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Russia has a long track record of cracking down on outspoken artists who criticize the establishment, but in April, Vladimir Putin formally banned same-sex marriage in the country; this mandate makes it a lot easier for wider swaths of people to be persecuted.

Yulia Tsvetkova, a Russian feminist artist, has recently been put on trial after being accused of distributing pornography. Tsvetkova, a vocal champion of women’s rights and LGBTQ rights is the founder of an online group called Vagina Monologues and allegedly posted stylized drawings of vaginas on the social media site VKontakte. Tsvetkova recently embarked on a hunger strike to protest the charges against her, illustrating the degree to which all manner of justice has been derailed in Russia.

“I realized that I can no longer sit quietly and watch the disgrace that is happening in the country and how my life is being derailed,” Tsvetkova wrote in a Facebook post. “Would you like to judge me? Please, please. But do it openly. I demand to open my process to the public…I demand that I be able to defend myself by all legal means, and allow a public defender into the process.” Pussy Riot’s Members Have Been Jailed by the Russian Government for Hooliganism