What We Learned From Pussy Riot's Epic Stephen Colbert Appearance

Every broadcast journalist in the world secretly relishes the fact that they get to say the phrase “pussy riot” to their audiences each day, but only the great Stephen Colbert knows what do when he has THE Pussy Riot on his show.
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Every broadcast journalist in the world secretly relishes the fact that they get to say the phrase “pussy riot” to their audiences each day, but only the great Stephen Colbert knows what do when he has THE Pussy Riot on his show.
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Every broadcast journalist in the world secretly relishes the fact that they get to say the phrase “pussy riot” to their audiences each day, but only the great Stephen Colbert knows what do when he has actual members of Pussy Riot on his show.

Band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were interviewed via a translator, and with a quick enough wit to leave the great Colbert speechless at times, we got to learn a lot about the two, what they hope to accomplish now that they've been released from prison, and how they feel about their country’s leader, Vladimir Putin.

We learned some fun facts like they have a song called “Putin Has Pissed Himself", they dislike Putin because they “have different ideas about a bright future and [they] don’t want a shirtless man on a horse leading us into that future,” they called themselves Pussy Riot, in English, because they “wanted to let English-speaking people enjoy themselves," and that there are lots of words in Russian for…it.

But more importantly we learned that these two women, who have just been denounced by the very group they went to jail for, believe in making practical changes, not just well-publicized spectacles, in hopes of bettering the world around them. We learned that they have a more concrete mission now. We learned that...


1. They were arrested because they "sang a fun song in a church.”

Maria says this was the cause for their arrest, which despite all the coverage around them, has gotten lost in the noise. When it all boils down to it, these two spent years in jail for singing in a church.


2. They don’t think their release from prison "actually improved the image of Russia," and wonder if "maybe Putin made a mistake and should just throw [them] back in jail.”

Obviously this was dripping in sarcasm, but it does highlight the damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don't situation that Putin was in with them. He couldn't keep them locked up with the Olympics coming to town, but now that they're out, they're a media powerhouse and they're tenacious.


3.  The two women would "much rather work on freeing the people who are still in jail who got arrested in the square on the sixth of May for standing up for freedom."

Nadezhda and Maria could easily have done the formulaic thing and just narrated their harrowing story during their media tour, but instead they spent most of their airtime pushing issues, including speaking up for their fellow arrestees who are still in prison and looking at multiple more years there.


4. The two have come here to look at American prisons and talk to human rights’ activists.

One of the most fascinating revelations from this interview was discovering the purpose for the girls' trip to America, even if we are apparently far behind the wondrous prisons of The Netherlands. It's noteworthy that the band is not just attacking this issue by bringing it to everyone's attention, but educating themselves on practical solutions. And that's a big difference from just turning your prison experience into a Netflix series.


5. They have kissed upwards of 40 female policewomen as a sign of protest against anti-gay legislation, and many of those policewomen "would often take [the girls] aside and say, ‘Why do you have to do this in public?’."

This is just a nice thing to know when reading nonsense like Russian politicians claiming that there are no gay people in Russia.


Hey, at least there are the Sochi games to remind everyone how great Russia is!