How Putin Made Pussy Riot Millions

Solidarity protest for the jailed Russian band members "pussy riot", Tel Aviv, Israel, 17.8.2012

Hopefully by now you’ve heard about the plight of Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot.

The girl punk band was sentenced to two years of hard labor by Russian officials for staging a protest concert at a Russian Orthodox Church. The performance defended women’s rights and decried Vladimir Putin’s strongman hold on the country.

By levying a draconian punishment, the Russian government (and Putin) martyred Pussy Riot.

Instead of silence, Pussy Riot has transformed from a relatively unknown group of women activists into global music icons and possibly the decade’s pop icon for feminism.

The resulting global protests have captured the media’s attention. Further, Pussy Riot wonthe political support of an increasingly silent music community.

No matter what happens now, Pussy Riot will be celebrated upon their release. The band will be welcomed by millions of fans globally who will pay good money to see them, buy their records and merchandise, and support them in their fight against Russian totalitarian governance.

Pussy Riot will make millions in 2014 (if not sooner via merchandizing).

From a political standpoint, what was an enforcement tactic straight out of the Art of War has instead become an international embarrassment.

We discuss control and messaging frequently in communications, and in particular in social media. As we can see here, when someone has access to media tools, both owned and earned, a controlling action can be reported, and turned into an empowering moment.

It never pays to try to control people’s online and media expression. We’ve seen this over and over again, and increasingly in developing and autocratic countries. Word gets out.

Will Pussy Riot cause more than embarrassment for Putin? It’s unlikely this incident will have more direct impact other than international political pressure. Russia seems to move between autocratic regimes.

However, the imprisonment has enraged Russia’s usually subdued media and could cause the beginning of the long movement towards an improvement in women’s rights and free speech. Change often begins with iconic moments in time.

In either case, when Pussy Riot’s hardship is over, they will find a receptive paying audience outside of the motherland.

What do you think of the Pussy Riot story?

13 Replies to “How Putin Made Pussy Riot Millions”

  1. Putin lives in a past where government was the ultimate power. He is the last of the Czars, and his methods are just as outdated. Economics rule the future, and Pussy Riot will win the economic war even as they lost the legal battle.

  2. “You say you want a revolution…”(The Beatles). Music has long been a “rebellious” outlet for teens and others. Combine it with the immediacy of online, as well as the success (in some cases) of change being made in other countries, and this was a scene waiting to happen. It just took longer. I think Russia’s various brushes with democracy over the years have built up, and these young ladies grew up knowing a lot more about free speech.

    1. You have to think that these actions are moving Russia closer, but I also worry about their centuries old culture of czars, Soviets, and autocratic presidents. We’ll see. I hope you are right!

      I do love the music leading the revolution, as you said, a la the Beatles!

  3. Tony Robbins taught me that everything we do, we do to meet six human needs. But the vehicles we use to meet these needs range from inspiring and uplifting (Gandhi) to totally destructive (Stalin).

    He talks about how there are four classes of experiences that we can indulge in that shape our destiny.

    A Class 1 experience is one that feels good, is good for you, is good for others and serves the greater good and I think as long as Pussy Riot keeps their focus on taking Class 1 actions they’ll be well on their way to accomplishing something truly remarkable.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this all unfolds.

    1. Definitely a phenomena, and one I suspect we will be hearing about again. Whether it was a moment in time, or the ladies serve as a force for change in the future. They have done much already!

  4. Let’s hope Czar Valimir doesn’t get
    wind of the Pussy Riot’s increased income. He has been know to detain the
    opposition on trumped up charges of tax evasion, even if the income is deferred
    until detention is over.

  5. Does a bunch of people tweeting in Western democracies about Pussy Riot actually mean anything whatsoever in terms of change in Russia? I’m pretty doubtful about that.

    It’s been all over the media in the West, yet that didn’t seem to make a difference to their sentences – if anything them getting 2 years seemed like a pretty big ‘FU’ to the watching world.

    The bigger point is that political ‘activism’ for many people now equates to clicking ‘Like’ on a Pussy Riot Facebook page. What does that actually DO for anybody?

  6. Putin is all about power. He harkens to the Soviet system, which will be problematic. Controlling government in a shameless political deal to return as Russian leader, putting the media under state control, using the legal system and tax authorities to advance his agenda and squash opposition, pouncing on near-abroad countries for geopolitical reasons, and adopting a knee-jerk foreign policy agenda to oppose the US and Europe, which he views as zero-sum gain thingie.So sad. That’s why he’s stuck supporting a murderous Syrian regime. 20,000 dead now?

    Pussy Riot is a small problem for him. He plays them up as an immoral challenge to conventional Orthodox Christianity. But performances have been more about abject religious bodies supporting his selfish political agenda. He has trouble with that, and he should

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