by Kelly Mulrooney

Pussy Riot is a Russian punk-rock feminist band that not only advocates for women, but also LGBTQIA+ rights in Russia, all the  while actively opposing Putin's oppressive rule. The band was founded in August of 2011 and since has served as a symbol of rebellion and change for not only Russians, but marginalized people everywhere. Putin and the Russian government have not taken kindly to Pussy Riot's demonstrations. On March 3, 2012, Russian police jailed Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina for "hooliganism." The women claim their prosecution amounted to torture. The women of Pussy Riot most notably protested the "anti-gay" laws and the "anti gay extremism" laws by publicly kissing policewomen. This rebellion put Pussy Riot on the world stage and  Putin's radar. 

Pussy Riot's protest isn't limited to Putin's misogyny and homophobia; they also condemn his non-secular government. One of their main oppositions with Putin are his ties to the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church. In 2012, five members of the group staged a riot at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow in protest of the Church's support for Putin during his political campaign. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church spoke out after the protest, saying that Pussy Riot "does the work of the devil." 

Pussy Riot's message is so revolutionary for women especially due to their name. They are dissociating the word "pussy" from previously associated synonyms like "weak," "craven," and "scared" and are identifying it with empowered women. 

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