Armed with rock instruments and clad in neon balaclavas, Pussy Riot made world headlines in 2012 when their members were thrown in prison for performing a “Punk Prayer” against Russian president Vladimir Putin. Now that they’re out of prison, the (now former) Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina continue to resist by founding an independent news source called MediaZona, which will heavily focus on conditions in Russian prisons, courts, and law enforcement. With renowned political journalist Sergey Smirnov named editor-in-chief, this sets a huge precedent within a political climate where independent media is consistently shut down or muffled by the Kremlin.
In a press release Tolokonnikova says, “Because of the heavy censorship by authorities there is no space for anything in the media that criticizes Putin’s policies and tracks human rights abuses by Russian courts and law enforcement. Courts, prisons, arrests, convictions, riots in facilities, political criminal cases, crimes by law enforcement officials — our new media outlet will try to cover it all.”
Alekhina and Tolokonnikova’s valiant efforts serve as a reminder that, no matter where you live, we should all value transparency and accountability of every government and its officials. Though Alekhina and Tolokonnikova’s chosen avenue of dissent may not sound as punk rock as their masked performances, the spirit certainly is.