Pussy Riot call for embargo on Russian oil

Ljubljana – The Russian feminist protest punk rock band Pussy Riot said that its European tour, as part of which they held a concert in Ljubljana on Thursday, was aimed primarily at expressing solidarity with Ukraine and anti-war views. They called on European countries to impose an embargo on Russian oil and labelled Russian President Vladimir Putin a Nazi.

Pussy Riot, who performed at the Metelkova counter-culture centre as part of the Lesbian Quarter Festival, gained global fame after their performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow in 2012, a year after being formed.

After the controversial performance, three of the band’s members – Nadya Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina, were arrested and subsequently given two-year prison sentences. The band has been at odds with the Russian authorities since.

Ahead of the concert, the band held a press conference in Ljubljana featuring Alyokhina, who recently managed to escape Russia disguised as a food courier, and two other members of the current line-up, Olga Borisova and Diana Burkot.

“It is Putin who is a Nazi”, Alyokhina said when asked what she thought of Russia’s official position that the invasion of Ukraine is about saving the country from Nazism.

She was arrested last year for alleged Nazi propaganda, she said, pointing to the current situation in Russia, where citizens face between five and 15 years in prison if they talk about the war in Ukraine without euphemisms.

Burkot, the musical core of the group who is one of its founding members and one of the two who were not arrested in 2012, also noted the unbearable situation in Russia, while saying that there was a strong feminist and anti-war movement in the country.

On behalf of the band, Alyokhina called on the Western countries to impose an embargo on Russian oil, as the band believes this would help end the war. There is a clear link between doing business with Russia and supporting the violence, they said.

“Money should not be more important than human lives,” she said, adding that the war would not have happened at all had the West reacted more sharply in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of the Crimea.

Alexander Cheparukhin, the arts collective’s agent and music producer, noted the hypocrisy of the many who had cooperated with Putin before the war and were now throwing all Russian in the same basket.

Cheparukhin said that many well-known Russian musicians who had never been politically exposed before the attack on Ukraine were now resisting the authorities and calling for an end to the war.

Borisova, a former police officer who joined the group six years ago after experiencing corruption as part of her former job, said that people who used to be politically passive had woken up and were now protesting and helping Ukrainian refugees.

An effective method was an activist putting labels with significantly raised prices on products in shops to gain the attention of customers, and adding information about the war on the labels.

Any information coming from the Russian authorities, on the other hand, is only political propaganda, Borisova said.