Pussy Riot on Hillary Clinton: 'We Would Be Happy if America Chose a Woman'

ANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina of Pussy Riot pose for photographs at Amnesty International UK headquarters in East London on Nov. 14, 2014. 

Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot has spoken out in the wake of the controversial hack of Democratic National Convention emails.

Last month's exposure by WikiLeaks of nearly 20,000 emails — believed by U.S. intelligence services to have been the work of Russian hackers operating under orders from the Kremlin — led to the resignation of DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on July 24. The email hack also led Donald Trump to reiterate his admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin. He then stirred further controversy when he urged Russian hackers to leak Hillary Clinton's private email.

The Hollywood Reporter asked Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova — both of whom served jail time after being convicted of "hooliganism" following an anti-Putin protest in a Moscow Orthodox cathedral in 2012 — for their take on the email hack, Trump, Clinton and Putin.

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Tolokonnikova responded with a simple graphic image she had prepared for her followers on Twitter: a photograph of herself dressed in a white-trimmed black dress sitting on an electric chair in front of a banner with Trump's campaign slogan "Make America Great Again" written in spray paint. She tweeted: "Make America Great Again. 2016. Electric chair, banner. Welcome to Idiocracy!"

Alyokhina gave a more detailed response in an interview with THR.

Asked to comment on Russia's involvement in the hack, she said she couldn't say who, specifically, was behind the cyberattack. "Luckily I am not an agent of the Russian security services," she said. "So I cannot say [to what extent] Putin's foreign intelligence was involved in the hacking."

Speaking "on behalf of those who are living and fighting in Russia," she added: "Here, all who are in opposition to Putin are in the security services' sights. Our mail is read, our phones tapped and we are watched. And that is not the limit — some of us have been killed."

Regarding the extent of the damage the DNC email leak had done to Clinton's chances of becoming president, Alyokhina was more upbeat.

"I do not believe that the ex-KGB is able to hit someone who is really strong," she said. "We would be happy if America chose a woman for president. It would be a wonderful sign that America is the land of opportunity."

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There had been little public reaction in Russia to the hack, mostly due to the fact that independent media has been largely destroyed on Putin's watch, according to Alyokhina.

"Almost all independent media in Russia has been destroyed," she declares. "At the federal [national] level — it has been totally destroyed. In these circumstances we cannot say what people want. If people have no information, any statistics will be false.

"Turning the question around, Americans should ask themselves if this is what they want if they vote for a 'strong Trump'?"

Although Russia's opposition has suffered a series of blows — most recently the murder of former deputy prime minister Boris Nemstov on a bridge near the Kremlin in February 2015 — Alyokhina insists opposition to Putin has not been eradicated.

Since the day of his murder, "homemade memorials" have been placed on the bridge and in a "clear sign that our society has not fallen into complete apathy," she said people continue to risk arrest to maintain the tributes.

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"Protest is not always massive and bright,' she said. "It is important that [Nemtsov] was sincere and consistent. It is important not to be afraid. It is important to stand until the end."

In a reaffirmation of Pussy Riot's policy of using art for political ends, Alyokhina concluded: "Artists should make more powerful statements than politicians. We must change the world and its ways so that politics breathlessly runs after art."

This article originally appeared in THR.com


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