‘Pussy Riot’ Will Invade Harvard’s Campus

The Russian punk band and political activists have made headlines all across the world, and now they’ll be in Cambridge to talk about their message.

Image via Associated Press

Image via Associated Press

They’ve been beaten on film during the Sochi Olympics, spent time in jail, oppressed by their own country’s president, and confronted by pro-Russian militants in the Ukraine. And now, the punk band known as “Pussy Riot,” a collective of politically charged women who have led a mini-revolution for human rights, will divulge their experiences during a special John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum at Harvard this month.

On September 15, Masha Alekhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova, the public faces of Pussy Riot who have traveled the world speaking out about the importance of freedom of speech and civil rights, while criticizing the strong arm tactics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, will take the stage during a free event sponsored by Harvard’s Institute of Politics, touching on topics such as Russian law, politics, and religion.

The two women will be joined by former CNN anchor and foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty, a public policy scholar from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, D.C., who will moderate the discussion. For those who can’t make it to the event, since there’s a limited amount of seating, the conversation with Pussy Riot members will be live-streamed.

The discussion will be followed by a Question and Answer session that will give Harvard students an opportunity to tap into the punk rockstars’ minds.

Pussy Riot first came into the public eye in 2012 after the band put on a masked performance inside of a church and lambasted Putin and his political motives and power. After being arrested, group members were later imprisoned on charges of “hooliganism,” which led to extreme criticism of the Russian government, and protests in support of the women from all around the world. 

Since their release, they’ve used the spotlight to discuss the importance of standing up for personal beliefs.

Most recently, Tolokonnikova, who served a nearly two-year sentence behind bars after putting on the masked performance with Pussy Riot, recently launched an independent news outlet called MediaZona with Alekhina. The site will reportedly cover Russian government and law enforcement, “and everything else that other outlets are barred from objectively reporting about” in their country, according to SPIN.

“Because of the heavy censorship by authorities there is no space for anything in the media that criticizes Putin’s policies and tracks human rights abuses by Russian courts and law enforcement,” Tolokonnikova said in a statement about the group members’ latest efforts. “Our new media outlet will try to cover it all.”

Correction:
An earlier version of this story misinterpreted the moderator's title and background. CNN anchor and foreign affairs correspondent Jill Dougherty is a public policy scholar from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, D.C. We regret the error.

  • George3C

    This will be interesting. I have some questions I’d like to pose to Mr Wilson. What, for instance, are his feelings about the mission of the United Nations as opposed to that of the League of Nations? What is his position on racial integration? Hope these questions are asked and answered.

  • Alimzhan Baizhanov