New Pussy Riot video lambastes Putin, Russian energy industry

Four members of Pussy Riot danced on an oil pipeline in garish masks, tights and short dresses in a new video released Tuesday, comparing President Vladimir Putin to an “ayatollah in Iran” and attacking his allies in Russia’s rich energy sector.

In their first performance in almost a year, posted on YouTube, the feminist punk protest collective also accused Putin of being homophobic after passage of what is widely seen as anti-gay legislation.

“Like in a Red Prison” is one of Pussy Riot’s few performances since its anti-Putin protest in a Russian Orthodox church last year won global fame for the band members but led to three of them being jailed.

In the new video, which includes profanities, one of the women pours what appears to be oil over a large portrait of Igor Sechin, the head of state oil firm Rosneft and a close Putin ally.

Another clutches a microphone while a third brandishes a guitar as they clamber onto the roof of a petrol station. In another segment of the more than three-minute-long clip, band members climb up a gas flare. At times they are watched by mystified workers in hardhats as they writhe to the music.

The aim of the video, the band explains, is to draw attention to what they say is Putin’s practice of allowing only close allies to share in the vast proceeds generated by the Russian energy industry. Rosneft declined comment.

In another part of the video, the women reprise their criticism of Putin’s close ties with the Russian Orthodox Church.

“Your president is like an ayatollah in Iran and your church is like in the United Arab Emirates,” they chant, without explaining the latter reference.

Much of the video also refers to “homophobic vermin” in Russia and denounces Putin as a homophobe after the president signed into law legislation banning the spread of gay “propaganda” among minors. Russian officials have denied the law is homophobic.

Pussy Riot and other opposition activists such as anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, who is mentioned in the video and is on trial on theft charges, accuse Putin of cracking down on dissent since returning to the presidency in May last year after protests against his 13-year rule.

The Kremlin denies there has been a clampdown.

Three members of Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in jail last August for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” over their “punk prayer” in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012.

Yekaterina Samutsevich was freed last October but Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who wrote some of the lyrics on the new video, are still in a prison colony.

The trial and punishment of the women angered many Western governments, and they won support from international celebrities such as Madonna and ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney.

But the 2012 protest and sentence divided Russians. Many people, liberals and conservatives alike, disapproved of the protest because it took place in a church, but fewer thought they deserved such a tough sentence, opinion polls showed.


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