Music for Putin's hears
In a country where Putin is omnipresent and omnipotent, the social networks are the only form of media that are free from the influence of the Kremlin. Denied access to the traditional media, it is only on Facebook and Twitter that Pussy Riot can express themselves freely
In 2011, the Democracy Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit stated that Russia was "in a long process of regression due to a change from a hybrid government to an authoritarian regime."
If there were still any doubts about this change, March 2012 arrived quickly to put Russian democracy in check. During an unauthorised, impromptu concert in protest against the presidential candidacy of Vladimir Putin at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, three members of the Pussy Riot band were arrested and charged with vandalism motivated by religious hatred.
The protest was filmed and later used to make a video clip. In one of the songs sung in the Cathedral, the group calls on the Virgin Mary to remove Putin from office. They portray the Russian Patriarch, Kirill I, as someone who is devoted to Putin, rather than God.
Pussy Riot had taken part in several previous episodes of protest and condemnation of Putin and his hegemony. This was the first event, however, that brought the band to international attention. Following this protest, two of the band members, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were arrested by the Russian authorities on the hooliganism charge.
In the beginning both denied being part of the group and began a hunger strike because theywere arrested and separated from their children until the start of the trial in April. However, before the trial, Ekaterina Samoutsevitch, another alleged member of Pussy Riot, was arrested and indicted. On August 17th, 2012, the three were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and received sentences of two years in prison.
"Ultimately, I think our judgment was important because it showed the true face of Putin's system," said Tolokonnikova. "This system gave a judgment against himself, condemning us to two years in prison without we committed any crime. This certainly makes me happy," she said.
Other members of the group, wanted by Russian police, fled the country to avoid persecution and possible acts of revenge.
But who are the Pussy Riot? They are a group of Russian feminist punk rock that is guided by his controversial interventions. Most of their works are political provocation and focus on issues such as the status of women or gay rights in Russia. More recently, the campaign of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency was one of the targets of this activist group. A countervailing power and extravagant group which stands out the colors of your clothes and the use of balaclavas - cap that hides the face - in all his performances. Anonymity is enhanced with the use of pseudonyms during interviews.
About this case Vladimir Putin told NTV (HTB - Russian TV channel), a documentary on the occasion of its 60th anniversary, the Pussy Riot "got what they deserved" and described the protest as "an act of a sexist group to hurt religious feelings."
The amnesty law signed by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Constitution, which led to the release of the two activists of the punk band Pussy Riot, was denounced by themselves as "profanity" as "public relations operation, to clear the image" intended to soothe international opinion prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi (Russia). So "if he had choice, and could refuse amnesty, was what he had done," said Maria Alyokhina.
After liberation, the Pussy Riot said that "with regard to President Vladimir Putin, did not change position: our intention is to continue to protest until he falls from power. If they had not gotten us in jail, we would not have failed to do what we do. " In an interview to the British channel Channel 4, the activists argue that everything is controlled by the Kremlin, including the media. Thus, both use Facebook and Twitter to express themselves freely as they consider that it is the only free space in Russia.
Like the report of the Freedom House 2015 declaring Russia as a country without freedom of the press, the ranking of press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders, Russia appears in 148th place out of a total of 179. According to the director this organization, Christian Mihr, the tension caused by the restriction of laws and monitoring of media leads journalists to self-censorship. Since 2012, the beginning of the third term of Putin, attends to a worsening of these laws is now the biggest censorship target is the internet.
Nevertheless, there is another warning sign in Russia, with regard to freedom of the press. There have been many attacks on journalists and reporters trying, somehow circumvent or contravene the rules imposed. Since 2000, about 30 deaths were recorded due reporters attacks, directly or indirectly linked to the Kremlin.
The Duma - the lower house of Russian parliament - approved in 2012 a law on treason of the homeland and espionage. For treason means anything that might jeopardize the security of the country. For journalists this means more restrictions at the time addressing more sensitive issues. However the restrictions went further: it was forbidden to use profanity in the press, a deterrent aimed at journalists, but also covers respondents and comments from readers.
Moreover, there is a ban on "propaganda in favor of non-traditional sexual relations in the presence of minors." Although it may seem a sensible rule, in practice, this rule is against journalistic material that talks about homosexuals. Fines reach up to 1 million rubles, about 23 thousand euros, and the media may be closed for 90 days.
Pussy Riot, among other causes, especially after they have been released, dedicated to fight the restrictions of freedom of expression around the world, saying "what we do is political art."
From prison cells to the red carpet activists have seen public exposure as an opportunity to promote anti-Putin campaign.
Perhaps one of its most newsworthy moments, even managed to appear in an episode of televisa series House of Cards where once again show their anger against the Kremlin.
Despite the efforts, all these things seem harmless to the eyes, and ears of Putin who continues to settle its hegemony in the minds and hearts of Russians.