Pussy Riot's World Cup Final Demonstration Lands The Russian Punk Band In Jail

ByMonica Busch

Members of the Russian feminist punk group who staged a demonstration at the World Cup are facing legal repercussions for their disruption, multiple news outlets report. The demonstrators, who belong to the group Pussy Riot, were sentenced to 15 days in prison for running onto the field during a World Cup final game, which took place in Moscow.

According to Art Forum, the members were Veronica “Nika” Nikulshina, Olga Kuracheva, Olga Pakhtusova, and Petya Verzilov. They were reportedly convicted for violating laws that dictated how spectators are required to behave at sporting events.

Their demonstration included dressing like police officers and storming the stadium during a match between Croatia and France. The group posted a list of demands related to the demonstration on their Facebook page. Those included:

  1. Let all political prisoners free.
  2. Not imprison for “likes”.
  3. Stop Illegal arrests on rallies.
  4. Allow political competition in the country.
  5. Not fabricate criminal accusations and not keep people in jails for no reason.
  6. Turn the earthly policeman into the heavenly policeman.

In addition to being imprisoned for 15 days, the demonstrators were also banned from attending sporting events for the next three years. The group has been posting updates on the sentenced's statuses since the demonstration took place.

The World Cup demonstration has received support from a litany of artists, including Ai Weiwei and Charle XCX. In a video shared to social media, Weiwei called for the release of political prisoners, including the demonstrators.

"The protesting is about to release [sic] political prisoners in Russia," he said. "I think this is a very important act and the people who are doing these protests should be released. And I fully support their action and I think their voice needs to be heard. The message is clear: Release [the political prisoners] all around the world, not only in Russia, but in every nation."

In concordance with the demonstration, Pussy Riot released a track entitled "Track About A Good Cop." They shared the video to social media around the time that participating members ran onto the field.

Members of Pussy Riot are known for staging political protests in Russia, and members have been imprisoned in the past. The World Cup protest, according to the group, was intended to mark the 11th anniversary of the death of Russian artist and poet Dmitriy Prigov. Prigov had written about an idealized version of police, referred to was the "heavenly policeman."

According to a The New York Times obituary for Prigov, the writer had spent time imprisoned in a Soviet psychiatric hospital as punishment for his work. He was revered as an artist whose creations were a form of social protest.

When the demonstrators ran onto the field, it was not immediately clear that Pussy Riot was behind the event. However, through social media, the group claimed responsibility for the protest. Those who ran onto the field were tackled and escorted out of the match, but not before at least one gave a high-five to a member of the French team. The clip swiftly went viral.