Russian activists discuss punk-rock feminism at UNCA

Pussy Riot performs in Moscow's Red Square. Photo courtesy of UNC Asheville

A sold-out audience welcomed Russian activists and Pussy Riot members Maria “Masha” Alyokhina and Alexandra “Sasha” Bogino to the Humanities Lecture Hall at UNC Asheville on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

The Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot stages protest performances in public locations. Videos of the performances have been widely circulated on the internet and have attracted the attention of the international media.

A 2012 performance in a Moscow cathedral protested the Russian Orthodox Church’s support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Three members of Pussy Riot were arrested and jailed; Alyokhina was one of them. Since her release from prison in December 2013, she has been traveling and speaking to groups about her activism.

Bogino has been working as a journalist for Mediazona, the group’s independent news outlet, for the past year.

Alyokhina also works with Mediazona to bring attention to other political activists in Russia. While she won three of her four court cases, the typical success rate for similar cases is .04 percent, and she advocates for people who don’t have access to the same level of media attention she does.

After watching a video about journalists who were attacked in Russia, Lori Horvitz, panel moderator and UNC Asheville professor, asked, “What can we do to make sure that doesn’t happen here?”

Bogino and Alyokhina said the majority of Russian media distributes what they consider propaganda. When independent journalists present objective information, the pair said, they’re putting their lives at risk. Most news organizations are controlled by the Russian government, and any independent news must be shared on western social media such as Twitter and Facebook, they said.

“The government has access to all of Russian social media, so you have to be careful,” Alyokhina said.

They said after the recent U.S. election, stores in parts of Russia celebrated the outcome with sales and publicized their support. Some stores even displayed posters of president-elect Donald Trump.

Audience members asked the panel about Wikileaks, Russian involvement in the U.S. presidential election and the experiences of Alyokhina during her imprisonment.

International attention to Pussy Riot’s plight made a big difference throughout the trial, Alyokhina said. “All that support gave me safety,” she said. “They can’t do anything to a person that has public attention.”

After the panel discussion concluded, the women sold merchandise to benefit Pyotr Pavlensky, an activist involved in several court trials for his political performance pieces. While Alyokhina and Bogino tended the booth, audience members came up for autographs and pictures, with a few asking the activists to record messages for friends who couldn’t attend.

One woman asked the pair to record a message for a neighbor who has had trouble leaving her house after the presidential election results. Another asked them to say something to a friend who is imprisoned for protesting.

An audience member asked the women how she and other activists could be Pussy Riot. The message was clear: fight.

“People think democracy will last forever,” Alyokhina said. “If you don’t fight for your democracy, you will lose it.”


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23 thoughts on “Russian activists discuss punk-rock feminism at UNCA

  1. boatrocker

    I have a feeling protest music in general is about to make a huuuuuuuge resurgence in America given recent events.
    Maybe the Swampers, the session band from Muscle Shoals Studios could help drain the real swamp that has recently flooded Washington DC?

    Sadly, skinhead music will most likely rear its ugly head again as well, known by new euphemisms after Stephen Bannon starts a record label.
    White Pride Records, Kill em all Studios, etc.

    It should be an interesting ride.

    • Lulz

      LOL, why is it if working class whites stand up for themselves, it’s seen as racism?

      Me thinks the BS that’s happening now is actually the left manipulating the morons.

      • boatrocker

        If by working class whites standing up for themselves by assaulting those of color, burning black churches, mosques, spray painting swastikas on just about every surface that will hold paint, well, you answered your own question.

        But yeah, keep believing the DemocraKKKs are perpetrating all those crimes just to discredit altright bigots.

  2. Deplorable Infidel

    democracy = mob rule so that’s perfect for these stupidly silly ‘rioters’ … you go girls! rah rah cis boom bah …

    Is this the kind of education needed within the UNC system? I think not.

    UNCA is SO LOSER in SO many WAYS!

  3. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    Did you hear about the protest at the University of NH? Two students dressed as Nixon and a gorilla (a supposed leveraging of the “dicks out for Harambe” meme) counter-protested an anti-Trump rally populated by students majoring in Perpetual Adolescence with a minor in Condescension. The students became traumatized when the two guys passed in a truck waving the American flag and throwing pacifiers to the crowd. Two professors were so tolerant of the counter-protesters right to protest that they called for their expulsion from school. One called them “racist agitators” (go figure).

    • NFB


      As opposed to tea bagger rallies for the past 8 years who were so accepting of President Obama’s two wins.

  4. The Real World

    “majoring in Perpetual Adolescence with a minor in Condescension” — totally perfect! I’m going to use that. And as we can see by the first post, the “educating” stuck and continues on into working life.

    Hello…… who has not gotten the memo at this point that CNN, MSNBC, NY Times, Wash Post, ABC, NBS, CBS and others have all been proven to be heavily fraudulent “news” media? Collusion was extreme between them and the DNC and HRC. But, old habits die hard for some — ‘I just gotta believe what the establishment tells me. They trained me to”.

    • boatrocker

      You really should address facebook/social media users and their willingness to believe anything posted for Muricans only
      having the attention span of a gnat and relying on tailored altright ‘news’ to suit their specific delicate little tastes as well.

      But don’t let that stand in your way of denigrating actual news networks with editors, fact checkers, asking difficult questions you don’t like hearing a candidate of your choice answer and their pesky objectivity.

      The free press and education tend to be the first up against the wall whenever the political pendulum swings far right.
      But we’ll find that out soon enough, won’t we?…..(ominous foreshadowing music played here)

      “The Establishment” is a uniquely right wing idea, as for calling libs anti establishment since the early 60’s, it’s impossible to be both, right?

      For having an incoming POTUS whose chief of staff is an ex Breitbart ‘news’ guy, the new administration could conceivably do in 6 months with social media what took Germany 17 yrs to do without it (1922 Beer Hall Putsch to 1939’s Lebensraum invasion of Poland).

      We’are ahead of schedule as a country, as cries of ‘Luggenpresse!’ and ‘Heil Trump’ are already ‘ok’ now according to some.
      Religious registries are bandied about, threats of press curtailment during the campaign, threats of jailing political opponents- hmmmm I can’t think of any historical precedents, can you?

      Post election week, we already had our Kristallnacht, conveniently (falsely) blamed on the left. Deja vu?
      Goebbels would be proud.

      • The Real World

        “actual news networks with editors, fact checkers, ……” — LOL, lulz and LOL 100 times. What networks would those be? Helloooo?

        Dude, they own your brain and you’re drunk on their scams and your own BS. Like I’ve said before, it’s their own acolytes that they Alinsky-manipulate the most. They could tell you today what you’ll believe next week. For real.

        • boatrocker

          Surprise! You are willing to neither acknowledge social media for news with a complete absence of editors, fact checkers, etc nor include FOX news in all the networks you list that twist the facts, but that’s no surprise to the rest of us.

          -Jewish boogeyman pulling the media’s strings- check
          -questioning anyone’s sanity who dares to point out uncomfortable facts- check
          – assumptions as to what any poster here ‘believes’- check

          for real man, your shtick is pretty predictable.

        • The Real World

          Ok, perhaps I was bit mean. I can tell by your writing that you’re a younger lad so it’s certainly possible you don’t realize what is occurring. Boatrocker, mainstream media used to be fairly reliable ….operating in the way that you mention….mainly just reporting stories as factually as they could and they cared about their reputations.

          Now it is far more prescribed and biased narrative than factual reporting. Far more. One example, and I could provide a dozen easily: today, they’re yapping about the lack of diversity in Trump’s cabinet. He’s only appointed, I believe, 5 positions so far! It’s insane to criticize a cabinet not nearly formed and the reason they’re doing it is all about bias and undercutting. They are trying to drive a negative narrative only 2 weeks after election day. (I’d be saying the same thing if that treatment was foisted on any Prez Elect). It does not help us and Americans should reject that crap. Many are…LOTS of boycotting happening, btw. Love it.

          So, numerous Americans will be parroting that lack of diversity theme thru the weekend, like the non-thinking robots they are. “By golly, if the TV said, it must be true”….. and off they go….unaware of their own programming. Scary. And you sound just like one of them when you go spouting accusations about a guy you actually know nothing about (Bannon). Your source? The manipulative mainstream media. It’s well worth your time to give all that an objective and serious re-think. Happy Thanksgiving.

          • boatrocker

            Nice try- I think I remember reading one of your posts a while back where you stated your age (only about 4 yrs older than I if I recall correctly)- nice try at a backhanded comment about my writing style. I’ll write circles around you on a bad day (sound of gauntlet being thrown down).

            As for your comment that mainstream media having once been reliable?
            As a history major in college,
            when I look back at Reagan quotes he got a free pass on
            “trees cause air pollution”
            “Ketchup is a vegetable”- wow.

            fast forward to George W, I could go on and on. Free passes all around from the media- either that or they just got headaches from slapping their foreheads on a nightly basis for reporting the news.

            Own the modern bias of news oops infotainment-
            own that Facebook influenced results via being able to post unchecked lies to angry ‘dey tuuk er jobs’ types,
            own that FOX is just as dirty as any of the networks you listed a few posts ago and here’s a challenge

            say it in print.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            “I’ll write circles around you on a bad day (sound of gauntlet being thrown down).”

            Dude, you communicate worse than Trump. I’m serious.

          • The Real World

            Ya, I typed a response to Boatie this morning but it went into moderation b/c I used a semi-cuss word. Not about him but about the dopes on social media. It’ll post tomorrow, I guess.

            Anyhow, big waste of time trying to converse with him. He lives in fairyland and I live…….ahem — in THE REAL WORLD! Plus he’s incoherent like you referenced.

  5. boatrocker

    PS only focusing on whiny college kids is hiding your head in the sand.
    Younger generations have always been whiny, for example

    “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority;
    they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise”- Socrates

    But yeah, post about puppies and pacifiers.

    • boatrocker

      I’m not sure how those 2 labels fit within this article- the main point seems to be highlighting the curtailment of a free press in Russia,
      but maybe the band’s name just makes you feel a little oogy?

      Yes, their music is vapid pop. Yes, they also have a message about standing up for freedoms.
      Every band that plays ‘activist-y’ music can’t be Bach or Coltrane, but we know this for having to listen to awful examples of Baby Boomer schlock.

  6. boatrocker

    And yet still nobody will own social media with all its un fact checked lies influencing voters. Our current POTUS elect is on film saying how much he loves the under- educated. And yet certain altright types will not own FOX being a heavily biased ‘news’ organization that is corrected, fact checked and contradicted daily, much less admit to it in print.

    Yea, alt right, have fun with that ‘Luggenpresse’ thing.
    Goebbels would be so proud. When all else fails, gaslight dissenting views, question everything from basic literacy to sanity.

    By the way is ‘altright’ offensive to delicate little PC wackos now or should we just revert back to calling them Jerry Springer show rejects/white power types?

      • boatrocker

        me- are you willing to address valid points about the press/state of the world?
        you- yap yap blah blah, but the world still doesn’t subscribe to my twisted altright viewpoint, you must not know how to write, go back to school/home/cave
        me- keep posting, you do entertain me so.

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