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Pussy Riot Keeps Kicking

Can feisty dissidents gain ground in a gutless America?
NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP

Pussy Rioter, Maria Alyokhina went on a hunger strike to protest being denied attendance at her own parole hearing. She was transferred to a prison hospital last week due to her condition. But despite it all, she's upbeat and determined to carry on the struggle. She can be found reading, writing and creating from her hospital bed. Alyokhina along with her partner in crime (literally), Nadezhda Tolokonniva, plan to continue protesting from within prison and long after.

Alyokhina was refused early release after prosecutors said she still hadn't truly repented of her crime and had been regularly violating prison rules (what a badass!). She maintains assertively and defiantely that she will only end her hunger strike when the prison relaxes its security regime.

For Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova, “the parole hearing means nothing,” she said. “In our case, the government wants us to recognise our guilt, which of course we won't do. I submitted the parole documents to show that they cannot break a person.”

When asked if she had begun to consider what life would be like after prison, Tolokonnikova said: "My life isn't going to change – there will be new key components because of the experience I've gathered here. The vectors of politics and art will continue the same.”

“I try to use all my time constructively – productively, creatively. I'm trying to learn how to relate to all this with interest, and I think I am achieving it,” Tolokonnikova said. “If your mood is bad, then time goes slow. If you learn to live paying attention to life and valuing it, even here, then time isn't lost. That's my main task: to make it so that the time they tried to take from me isn't lost. And I think I am successful.”

The desire to continue Pussy Riot's blend of art, music and protest still burns strong. Though they are now stuck under the stern, ever-watchful eye of Russia's security services, and are accordingly unable to organize anything thus far, they still express a commitment to continue fighting against Putin's regime – no matter what.

Meanwhile, in America, fear of going to jail holds a lot of activists back. Not that winning brownie points amongst comrades for getting hand-cuffed is the point, but the question is why is there no Pussy Riot equivalent in America? Where are the artists taking advantage of their position in the spotlight, putting their ass on the line, and having the guts to really say what they feel and speak up … against Obama's false promises, the Monsanto take-over, Guantanamo Bay, climate change, anything?

The Pussy Rioters have guts. Gall. Brains. Passion. It's not that the USA is lacking artists with inflamed hearts, savvy minds or impassioned souls, but that they haven't come out of the closet, imprisoned by their own cowardice, laziness or complacency in America's system, which comforts and sedates its citizens even as it declines.

Russia's got Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich ... and all we've got is Bono (but not even, since he's Irish). Is revolutionary art dead in America?

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Comments on the article “Pussy Riot Keeps Kicking”

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Dani

No! It takes a group to create something such as pussy riot has done. Artists are starting to stand up here too, but unless you have a group to play say in a band it is harder to call attention. Will get there too, we just need to work together to create something big such as pussy riot has done.

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