On February 21, 2012, five young women entered the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow wearing neon-colored dresses, tights, and balaclavas to perform a “punk prayer” beseeching the “Mother of God” to “get rid of Putin.” What transformed a group of young women into artists with a shared vision, and what gave them the courage to express that vision and to deal with the subsequently devastating outcomes? Through the trial of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen, author of Putin: The Man Without a Face, tells a larger story about Vladimir Putin’s Russia, with its state-controlled media, pervasive corruption, and pliant judiciary.
Masha Gessen is the author seven books, including the national bestseller The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. Born in Moscow, she emigrated to the United States in her teens, then returned to Russia a decade later. Writing in both Russian and English, she has covered every major development in Russian politics and culture of the past two decades, receiving numerous awards and fellowships in the process. She blogs weekly for The New York Times and has written for The New York Review of Books, International Herald Tribune, The Guardian, and U.S. News & World Report (where she served as Moscow Bureau Chief), and has also edited several Russian magazines. She has recently relocated to New York City.
Suzi Weissman is a Professor of Politics at Saint Mary’s College of California. She broadcasts the weekly “Beneath the Surface with Suzi Weissman” program on KPFK Los Angeles. She serves on the editorial boards of Critique and Against the Current, and is the author of Victor Serge: The Course is Set on Hope, and the editor of Victor Serge: Russia Twenty Years After and The Ideas of Victor Serge.
Main Image: Pussy Riot in Moscow. Credit: Denis Sinyakov
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