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Pussy Riot releases new protest song: 'prison is a weapon'

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Image 0Punk collective takes on the Kremlin, corruption and the criminal justice system in satirical video.

It has been a torrid few months for Russia's embattled general prosecutor Yuri Chaika. In December he was the subject of a video made by opposition leader Alexei Navalny, which accused his family of mafia ties and gross corruption.

Now he is on the receiving end of biting satire doled out by the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot.

The band's latest pop video, released on Wednesday, is a black pastiche of Russia's criminal justice system, featuring torture, hooded prisoners in nooses and a framed official portrait of the president, Vladimir Putin.

Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova plays the role of Chaika, backed up by dancers in blue prosecutors' uniforms. A golden loaf of bread and a Lenin memorial also feature.

Navalny's original video, which attracted more than five million views, alleged that Chaika's sons Artem and Igor had built up a massive business empire using thier father's network of regional prosecutors to crush rival companies.

It further claimed that his sons' business associates have links with the notorious Tsapok gang, and that the Chaikas own a home in Switzerland and a luxury hotel in Greece, among other properties.Selective weapon'

The latest song from Pussy Riot pokes fun at Chaika's patriotism with the lines “I love Russia/I'm a patriot/But I could live in Switzerland as well".

The lyrics go on to suggest that the Kremlin uses criminal prosecutions as a selective weapon – prosecuting their enemies and dropping charges for their “homies".

Tolokonnikova said the video was a response to the way the government considers Russia an instrument to get rich. “[The state] doesn't care about the standard of living of Russian citizens. Nor about education, the environment or about the development of science or industry," she said.

Instead, the elite raid the country and then go abroad to spend their loot, she added.

The video was shot in three different locations across Moscow: a kitsch fort above the city's Ismailovsky market; an abandoned and unheated Soviet-era palace of culture; and a disused jail.

Tolokonnikova said it was easy to get hold of the uniforms, adding that Putin had been right when he said you could buy them at any corner shop. “The only problem was the size," she said. “They were six sizes too big for us. Apparently, prosecutors like to eat."

Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina spent 21 months in jail following an anti-Putin punk protest inside Moscow's Christ the Saviour cathedral in 2012.

Alyokhina doesn't appear in the latest video because the pair no longer work together creatively as Pussy Riot, Tolokonnikova said. They continue to collaborate on a website, MediaZona, which highlights the legal system and conditions inside Russia's prison.

The English language version of Navalny's video came out last month and was screened on Tuesday before a group of British MPs.

Chaika has denied the allegations against him in the video, calling them a “hatchet job" and an attempt by an outside power to smear him.

As for Chaika the song, Pussy Riot say that “any resemblance to actual events or persons isn't accidental, but deliberate".


February 3 2016, 17:45

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