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Pussy Riot Wants to Free a Teen Girl Accused of Plotting Against Putin

A fiery open letter and new single aim to raise light on the issue

BOSTON, MA - MAY 25: Pussy Riot perform during the Boston Calling Music Festival at the Harvard Athletic Complex in the Allston neighborhood of Boston on May 25, 2018. (Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Pussy Riot perform during the Boston Calling Music Festival at the Harvard Athletic Complex in the Allston neighborhood of Boston on May 25th, 2018.

Craig F. Walker/Getty Images

Two weeks after four members of proto-punk political protest outfit Pussy Riot were arrested for interrupting the FIFA World Cup final, the group has put out a new song calling for their release and drawing attention to the plight of a young girl they say is being wrongly imprisoned by the Russian government.

Anya Pavlikova, 18, was arrested in March, accused of plotting to overthrow the Russian government. Formally charged with “extremism,” she faces 10 years in jail. Pavlikova’s defenders maintain the teenager is the victim of entrapment by Russian police who infiltrated a group chat created by Pavlikova and her best friend on messaging service Telegram.

The song’s title and lyrics are inspired by a photograph of Pavlikova, a My Little Pony fan, cradling a stuffed unicorn. On “Unicorn Freedom,” a shimmering, 8-bit-inspired electro-pop track, Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova rasps over a pulsing techno beat lyrics that translate roughly to: “Hey cop don’t put us in prison / The unicorn’s here to protect us.”

In an open letter accompanying the track, Tolokonnikova described Pavlikova’s plight.

“What did Anya do? She and her 19-years-old friend Maria Dubovik, joined a Telegram chat that’s been critical of Vladimir Putin. Participants of the chat would meet at McDonalds and talk about boys, exams and politics.

Then the chat was joined by the FSB agent, who later provided all info about its participants to the FSB and police, which caused a brutal arrest of 9 people. Police says that the activists created an ‘extremist community’ with a goal ‘to overthrow Russian President Vladimir Putin.’ Anya Pavlikova is the youngest of them, she was 17-years-old when police came to her room covered with unicorn pictures. ‘Are you a junkie? We gonna put you in jail for 20 years, you’ll get out of there as ugly, 40-years-old granny. Your parents will forget you in 2 days,’ policemen said to Anya while arresting her. One activist, Ruslan Kostylenkov, reportedly was tortured after his arrest.

Anya and others did not commit any crimes, just chatted. 18-years-old is facing 10 years in jail for talking…This criminal case is a part of a bigger strategy of Putin’s government aimed to intimidate young people, who in the last couple of years became seriously involved in politics. People of school age started showing up in the streets saying that they’ve had enough of Putin. Big anti-corruption protests happened on 26th of March 2017, on 12th of June 2018, a series of rallies all around Russia on 5th of May 2018, a few days before Putin’s inauguration (over 1600 people were arrested on the 5th of May)…Educational institutions, governed by the Kremlin, have turned against them and both the kids and their parents are being terrorized. 13-14-years-old kids are being arrested during rallies, in some cases violently.

Government’s ban of messenger Telegram has already been for four months. It’s a place where all of us, including young activists, share and get info. It’s encrypted, therefore it makes the government angry. We all use Telegram anyway, cause we got VPN. But Anya Pavlikova’s criminal case is here to serve as a threat to anybody who believes that they may stay safe discussing politics.

We in Pussy Riot are in shock of what Putin’s gang is doing with people who raise their voice against him, and we’re releasing this track “Unicorn Freedom” to support Anya Pavlikova.”

In This Article: RSX

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