Why Peaches Supported Pussy Riot

You are here

Risqué musician and performance artist Peaches felt compelled to do something to support female Russian punk collective Pussy Riot's right to free speech and radical style of artistic expression because she both identified with them and realized her name could reach different ears globally.

In March, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22; Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and held behind bars for performing an anti-Putin song at the altar of Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February.

Peaches made a “Free Pussy Riot” song/video — with the participants copying the group’s brightly coloured performance attire, including balaclavas — and created a Change.org petition that gathered almost 150,000 signatures.

In August — amid worldwide support for Pussy Riot from Amnesty International and Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners to Sting, Pete Townsend, Yoko Ono, Madonna  — and Peaches — the three young women were sentenced to two years in a Russian penal colony. They had faced as many as seven.

 

“Obviously, my politics are to the left and open, but I don’t get completely involved in stuff, but I felt like the Pussy Riot girls — that that could be me,” the Toronto-born, Berlin-based Peaches told Samaritanmag while in Toronto recently. “If I was in Russia, that would be me. And Germany’s not too far from Russia too.

“I can’t even imagine if I lived in a strict Muslim (country) not even allowed to go out,” she pondered.

The video and petition were more successful than Peaches imagined they would be. Even though they didn’t contribute to a not guilty verdict and acquittal, her efforts and those of other high-profile musicians may have led to a lesser sentence, Pussy Riot’s legal team have told media.

“Why I did it was more because there were big celebrities saying sorry because they were playing Russia; that’s why they felt the need to, but nobody was stepping up. This was days before Madonna wrote stuff,” said Peaches. “And then on the other end, there were so many artists and musicians making videos and doing actions and doing protests, but their voices weren’t really being heard. It was underground.

“Somehow, my name combined with what that was, it just worked. It was really that middle area that wasn’t being filled for awareness. They needed some name that was attached to underground, but a name enough.”

On Monday (Oct. 1), Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich will go before the Moscow City Court to request an appeal hearing.  They are hoping to have their sentence shortened and prevent being sent within 10 days from the jail to separate penal colonies.

“Right after I did that whole Pussy Riot video and got 200,000 signatures on the Change.org, I went to China and I was beside myself because it took off,” says Peaches. “I was doing like BBC interviews and CTV. It was hard because I wanted to sing the new song [in China], but I pushed it so far just being there that I couldn’t. It was strange to be in that country at that time.

“I was talking to somebody and they said that Bob Dylan was there the year before and he played under the condition that he didn’t play ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ or ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’.”

Does Peaches think music has the power to affect change?

“I think it can.”

Samaritanmag.com is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.