Russian Punk band Pussy Riot has released it’s first English song, “I Can’t Breathe,” inspired by the death of illegal cigarette vendor Eric Garner in a chokehold courtesy of New York’s finest. So two years after the bandmembers spent time in Russian jail with Putin on the cover of this week’s Economist headlined “Putin’s War On The West”, less than a year after Putin’s annexing The Crimea and likely within weeks of his pulling an Anschluss in east Ukraine, as well as his covert support of pro-Russian separatists throughout Eastern Europe, Pussy Riot has come out with a song critical of NYPD for choking a citizen to death.
The Daily Beast makes a critical note of the group, “It certainly says something that the group, with all that is going on in Russia and the Ukraine at the moment, feels the need to make their voices heard on an issue that’s confined to our shores.” Huffington Post is kinder, writing “The video, shot in Russia, shows (Pussy Riot members) Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina wearing Russian riot police uniforms and being buried alive. ‘We were realizing that Russia is burying itself alive in terms of the rest of the world. Committing suicide. Daily,’ Pussy Riot told BuzzFeed News.”
But the fact remains the video is in English and it is about an event that happened within the United States. Americans will likely miss the subtexts within the song that Pussy Riot claims attack Putin’s regime, and the Kremlin will likely see the video as targeted at the US not Russia due to its subject and language.
So has Putin declawed Pussy Riot? It seems likely.