Pussy Riot's new music video takes on Russian prosecutor

The World

Russian punk activist band Pussy Riot is back on the scene with a music video that mocks Russian General Prosecutor Yuri Chaika with lyrics referencing corruption accusations made against him last year by opposition leader Alexei Navalny. 

The video, which is filmed at multiple locations in Moscow, stars Nadya Tolokonnikova as Chaika, with her and other women dressed in blue prosecutor uniforms dancing around while they abuse and torture restrained prisoners. The satirical song also comments on the Kremlin, Russia's justice system and President Vladmir Putin.

After completing an investigation, Navalny released a short documentary online in December — released again in English last month — that accuses senior Russian prosecutors of having ties to gangsters. The video, which has reached more than five million views, according to the Guardian, points fingers at Chaika for graft, having secret holdings abroad, and using his position to help his sons cultivate their large business empire and to cover up their connections to the Tsapok gang. 

Chaika denied the allegations and claimed Navalny was "encouraged" to make the film and that he was financed by an outside source. Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation filed a lawsuit against the prosecutor for slander and reputational damage. It was dismissed by a district court in Moscow in December.  

 'Putin is the Tsar of corruption' - BBC Newsnight on YouTube

The lyrics — "Be humble, learn to obey, don't worry about material stuff. Be loyal to those in power, 'cause power is a gift from God," and "You wanna get away with murder? Be loyal to your boss" — are repeated throughout the video. 

Charles Maynes, a Moscow-based reporter, says "the lyrics kind of serve as warning to you if you get in the grips of the Kremlin. It's not very pleasant."

Maynes says there is evidence to support Navalny's claims against Chaika. A Transparency International report released last year scored countries on their "perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean)." Russia ranked 119 out of 168 countries with a score of 29. This ranking was worse than many of Russia's neighboring countries. Maynes also pointed to the great wealth some of Putin's friends and associates have acquired over the last decade as being indicative of government corruption.

To combat these claims, last month a pro-government organization, which Maynes believes was created by Putin himself, put out a series of animated videos where Putin executes government officials accused of corruption in variety of ways.

"It's a little bit creepy, given the recent report that was out of London looking at the murder of the former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, in which the British court found that Mr. Putin probably approved this killing using polonium," Maynes says.

ОНФ снял серию мультиков, где Путин убивает коррупционеров.Лучшие моменты on YouTube

Will Pussy Riot's music video hurt the Russian government? Maynes believes the song plays into Putin's narrative of the evil influence of the West. But it does, he adds, speak to the idea that loyalty is paramount in the Russian government. 

"There has been no inquiries into the prosecutor general's activities despite this report from Navalny, and I don't think we'll see one," he says. "I don't think even Pussy Riot would expect to see one.

"You have these sort of dueling approaches to dealing with corruption. Certainly Pussy Riot and Navalny would say it's the Kremlin's that's corrupt from the very beginning, and the Kremlin has its own anti-corruption drives that they pull out from time to time to, you know, perhaps distract, but to perhaps take on corruption where they see it to be necessary," Maynes says. "Ultimately it's Putin's friend who stay above the fray."