CATHEDRAL OF CHRIST THE SAVIOR, MOSCOW, RUSSIA
— MOTHER OF GOD, CHASE PUTIN AWAY!
On February 21, we, the soloists of Pussy Riot—Garadzha, Tura, Schumacher, Serafima, and Cat—invited all of our Orthodox friends to join us for a punk prayer at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
“Since peaceful demonstrations attended by hundreds of thousands of people don’t produce immediate results, on the eve of the Easter holidays, we will ask the Blessed Virgin to chase Putin out,” Serafima told us. The words to our punk prayer came to us instantly; we wanted to sing them right away. Through the February frost, we made our way toward the Cathedral.
Before the elections, Patriarch Kirill, known for his tobacco business and net worth of four billion dollars, was very vocal about his opposition to political activism among the citizenry: “Orthodox people don’t know how to go to protests, they kneel before the Holy Virgin. They don’t go to demonstrations, their voices are not heard, they pray in the silence of their monasteries, in their cells, in their homes.” It’s true: Russians’ voices are not heard, but that’s because they have been silenced by the Central Election Committee. The people want to chase Putin out, but the Election Committee steals their voices and their votes.
His Holiness considers the last 12 years of relations between the church and state “a miracle.” We agree—we haven’t seen such a miracle in ages: The government controls all media outlets, and yet, Putin still insists that newspapers and television don’t devote enough time to the Orthodox Church.
It’s nauseating that the Patriarch agitates on Putin’s behalf, referring to him as the President of Russia before the elections, and saying that Putin has allegedly “fixed the crookedness of history.” If Putin has fixed anything it is the pockets of his close associates, including those of Holy Kirill himself. We sing of the “black cassock and golden ribbons,” referring to the black robes hiding KGB decorations. Patriarch Kirill is a well-known agent. When we say that “gay pride is sent to Siberia in shackles,” we are alluding to the law forbidding propaganda for homosexuality.
According to Bishop Dmitry Smirnov, “Feminism is a sharp knife, cutting through family!” Pussy Riot is indeed against the patriarchal family, where women are given a secondary, submissive role. We decided to give the Punk Prayer service at the Altar of the Cathedral, because it is a place where women aren’t allowed. The Holy Virgin herself wouldn’t be allowed at the Altar.
We didn’t have to wait long for the Russian government’s response to our performance. On February 24, 2012, criminal charges were pressed against us, and three members were arrested. For seven months, we were kept in Pre-Trial Detention Center No. 6 in Moscow. On October 10, only one of us managed to reduce her sentence and was released on parole. The two others who remained in custody were sent to penal colonies and we remain there to this day.
[Translated from the Russian by Bela Shayevich]