10 reasons Pussy Riot are even cooler than you already thought

After their visit to the Union last night, JOE GOODMAN gives you even more reason to love the punk protestors

aylokhina Cambridge Union Nadya Tolokonnikova Punk Pussy Riot Putin zizek

Blown away by Pussy Riot’s talk at the Union last night? Prepare yourselves for another shitload of swoooooon

1. They don’t give a shit

In 2008, while heavily pregnant with her son Gera, Nadya Tolokonnikova took part in an orgy filmed in Moscow’s state Biology Museum to highlight the Orwellian nature of the then Prime Minister’s call for “increased reproduction” among the Russian population.

2. They managed to make this happen

The composer Cecille Ore was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 to write a choral tribute to the punk protest group for BBC singers. Allegedly, the pronunciation of the word ‘fuck’ caused the biggest obstacle for conductor Nicholas Kok, who eventually decided on something a bit closer to ‘fak’ for melodic reasons. Watch the video below.

3. They’re not your everyday girl band

Musically, the group cite British punk bands the Cockney Rejects, Sham 69 and Angelic Upstarts as their influences as well as Bikini Kill and the bands in the Riot Grrrl movement of the 90s. In an interview with the Guardian, Tolokonnikova admitted that when they started Pussy Riot she had never picked up a guitar, but could play (the admittedly less punk instrument) piano.

4. They have a riotous sense of humour

Being interviewed on the Collbert Report earlier this year, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina explained they came up with the name Pussy Riot to allow English speakers to have some fun when saying it.

5. They count some pretty cool people among their friends…

Many prominent figures have shown open support for the activists include Aung San Suu Kyi, Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna, Bjork and Yoko Ono – who awarded the band the biennial LennonOno Grant for Peace.

Fucking yessss

Creds to Madonna


6. …But are hesitant about Russian into anything

Pussy Riot declined separate invitations to perform alongside Madonna and Bjork (who dedicated her song ‘Declare Independence’ to the band) explaining, “the only performances we’ll participate in are illegal ones. We refuse to perform as part of the capitalist system, at concerts where they sell tickets”

7. They’re some seriously tough cookies

As well as surviving 21 month stints in the Russian state penitentiary system, members of Pussy Riot have faced countless physical threats and attacks from government forces over the years.

Most recently, while on a trip to campaign for prisoner rights, Alyokhina and Taisa Krugovykh were involved in an acid attack leaving Alyokhina fearful that she might be crippled for life. Fortunately she recovered after 2 weeks.

8. ZIZEK!

While in prison, Tolokonnikova started a correspondence with renowned political and cultural commentator Slavoj Zizek. The resulting letters, which cover philosophy, dreams and music, were compiled into a book published this summer and make a pretty eye-opening read.

Nadya Tolokonnikova with her husband (and translator) in 2007

Nadya Tolokonnikova with her husband (and translator) Pyotr Verzilov in 2007

9. They’re a right headache

In 2012, Irina Ruzankina, a Russian woman from Novosibirsk filed a claim for the equivalent of $1000 after a Pussy Riot video allegedly gave her a headache and increased blood pressure. The case was thrown out.

10. You can join them!

Here’s what Tolokonnikova and Aylokhina had to say in 2014:

“Anybody can be Pussy Riot, you just need to put on a mask and stage an active protest of something in your particular country, wherever that may be, that you consider unjust”