Two members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot were detained again, for about four hours, on Tuesday the 18th as witnesses or possible suspects to a robbery at a hotel. Seven other people, including activists and journalists who were with them, were also detained and taken to the Adler police station, which is a stones throw from the Olympic Park.
Tweeting from the van where they were detained, Pussy Riot Member member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and human rights activist Semyon Simonov complained of harsh treatment, and said that they had been planning a music video for the song “Putin Will Teach You How to Love Your Motherland.”
The next day, Wednesday the 19th, while attempting to actually perform “Putin Will Teach You How to Love Your Motherland, members of the band were brutally beaten in the streets, to the point of hospitalization. Apparently, the Russian officials really think beatings are the road to reeducation, and have no concept of irony. Remember, it has only been a few months since the same women were released from prison, following two years of detainment and human rights violations, including state sanctioned sexual assault in the form of regular, punitive gynecological examinations.
These arrests and beatings are taking place against the backdrop of the Sochi Olympics, where workers wearing uniforms carrying the logos of Coke and McDonalds have been detaining citizens of other countries. While, in Sochi and elsewhere, police, military, and private citizens are violently accosting, arresting, and beating gay people, and their allies.
From just the information presented here, it is obvious that the Russian government is a gang of bullies. We, as members of the international community, cannot abide this. We cannot allow our fellow women and men to suffer at the hands of a corrupt and brutal government for daring to be born differently or support those that are.
We must continue to spread awareness, promote a message of tolerance and peace, and expose the horrors of the Russian government to as many people as we can. Beyond that, we can actively condemn the sponsors of the Sochi Olympics. We can tweet, write, and place phone calls, we can refuse to watch the olympics and refrain from drinking coke products. We need to let these companies know that their tacit approval of the Russian anti-LGBTQ agenda will not go unpunished.