The Rally for Pussy Riot at the Ace Hotel

Supporters of Pussy Riot gathered at the Ace Hotel last night for a reading of the jailed Russian feminist punk band’s courtroom statements. Organized by JD Samson of Le Tigre/MEN and presented by Amnesty International, the readers included Chloe Sevigny, Johanna Fateman, Eileen Myles, and Justin Vivian Bond. Though the #freepussyriot campaign is no stranger to celebrity endorsements—artists from Madonna to the Hives have expressed support—the event seemed like it had to be seen in order to be believed.

In the dimly lit Liberty Hall, however, the attention was all on the issue at hand: the trio of artists who have raised attention to human rights issues in Russia after their arrest for performing an anti-Putin protest song at a Moscow cathedral. None of the readers were introduced by name as they took turns reading the statements and letters from Katja Samutsevich, Nadia Tolokonnikova, and Masha Alyekhina that detailed their treatment in prison and defense against the charges of “hooliganism based on religious hatred.”

Readings of the courtroom transcripts revealed the nature of the show trial, where witnesses for the prosecution described how they suffered from post-traumatic stress due to the bright colors of Pussy Riot’s clothing. A letter of support from Yoko Ono and lyrics to Pussy Riot songs were also read, including a track whose name literally translates to “Putin Pissed Himself.”

This morning, it was announced that the three members of Pussy Riot have each been sentenced to two years in prison. The band has also released a new single entitled “Putin Lights Up The Fires.”

Photos by Mark Kendall

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