Pussy Riot's Nadya on Surviving President Trump

Courtesy of Shore Fire
Pussy Riot

Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot warns Americans to avoid complacency during the coming years, especially if you fear the looming presidency of Donald Trump. Speaking before an appearance at Miami’s Art Basel late last week, Tolokonnikova told the New York Times that the propaganda and “fake news” that spread during her trial and incarceration in Russia can happen here.

"It's important not to say to yourself, 'Oh, it's O.K.,'" she said. "It's important to remember that, for example, in Russia, for the first year of when Vladimir Putin came to power, everybody was thinking that it will be O.K."

Tolokonnikova said the fact that U.S. citizens enjoy free speech and a free press is not enough, given Trump’s ability to drive news coverage with often dubious claims, such as his baseless assertion that millions of fraudulent votes were cast on election day. "It is a common phrase right now that 'America has institutions,'" Tolokonnikova said. "It does. But a president has power to change institutions and a president moreover has power to change public perception of what is normal, which could lead to changing institutions."

Tolokonnikova, who served two years for "hooliganism" related Pussy Riot's 2012 Putin-mocking performance at a Moscow church, told the Times why she and her bandmates decided to speak out against Trump during the campaign. (In October, the band released a provocative video called "Make America Great Again.") “What happens in one country makes huge influence on what’s going on in other countries,” she said. “So, I didn’t want Donald Trump to be elected because it would obviously encourage authoritarian politicians around the world to be more authoritarian, and it did.”

Later, while speaking at the Art Basel event, an audience member asked her, "How can you survive a Trump presidency?" Her response, according to Artnet, was to band together. Find or create alternatives," she said. "If your government doesn’t represent you, build your own social network and provide a safe environment for people around you. Help those who are more vulnerable than you. There are a lot of people who will lose their health and will probably lose their lives because of a Trump presidency."

President Donald Trump Inauguration