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Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokno on Donald Trump's election




Nadya Tolokno of Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot.
Nadya Tolokno of Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot.
KAY NIETFELD/AFP/Getty Images

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Pussy Riot became a household name in 2012 when members of the Russian punk rock collective got arrested. They put on a performance to protest against their government inside a Moscow cathedral.

One of the members who served time in prison was Nadya Tolokno. She was convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and received a two-year sentence. But that hasn’t stopped her from writing and performing politically charged songs. Pussy Riot recently released an anti-Trump song and video called "Make America Great Again," from the EP "xxx." 

Tolokno says she wanted the video to send a message of what she thought would happen if Donald Trump was elected president. "I really felt like a lot of people treated it as a joke," Tolokno said. "What I was trying to say then was that it's not [a joke], and I was right. I didn't want to be right." 

KPCC reporter Priska Neely spoke with Nadya Tolokno about where she was during the election, how she talks to her daughter about politics, and censorship in Russia. 

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

On watching the election night results

I was hanging with Masha [Alyokhina] from Pussy Riot. The fact that we had this common shared experience of being in jail helped us a lot, because we were like, Okay, we've been through some s---. It's not just for America. It's really [hurtful] for me because I understand how much it will encourage [Vladimir] Putin to be more aggressive towards his own people in my country. 

On how she talks to her daughter about world affairs

I speak a lot with [my daughter] about politics. I started when she was four and we actually started by watching [animated films] by Hayao Miyazaki. It was really heavily political cartoons, but she more or less understands what's going on. 

It's better to just prepare them with, Oh, there is a patriarchy. There are some really bad men who don't want to treat us as equal.

On artists' freedom of expression in Russia

There are people who are criticizing [Putin through art], but it's f----- up right now in Russia. So that's why this American election made me so sad, because I don't want America to be the same place where Russia is right now. People are apathetic and have given up because they don't feel that it could change.  

But we have some amazing and super brave people who are still trying to make some changes. Some people are trying to do that through music. Besides music, we have our own media outlet in Russia. We founded [MediaZona] when we got released from jail. 

It was an easy time [to release it] because Putin just shut down almost every independent voice in modern Russia. So we asked people who have been fired, really brilliant journalists who had been fired just because they didn't want to face censorship. We then [included] them in our media outlet. 

On if she believes her country's government can change

Could you have ever imagined that Donald Trump would become the president of the United States? Things that you couldn't really imagine could happen. History is open and it depends on luck in the end. But I believe that we could bring changes in Russia. 

I know there are a lot of people who are not in line with what Vladimir Putin brings to Russia, and they don't believe they can bring changes. I know that if they have this hope, something could change. 

The new EP by Pussy Riot, "xxx," is out now. 



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