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Russian Punk Collective Pussy Riot Returned To Canterbury Cathedral To Collect An Honorary Degree From The University Of Kent


21 July 2023

Pussy Riot returned to Canterbury yesterday to collect an honorary degree from the University of Kent. The link between the city and the Russian punk collective was established in  September 2022, when they presented the UK premiere of Riot Days at Gulbenkian on the University’s Canterbury campus following an extended residency with the Arts Centre. Pussy Riot members Maria Alekhina (Masha), Diana Burkot, Olga Borisova and Taso Pletner received the degree during a ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral.

They each were made a Doctor of Letters in recognition of their inspirational contribution to the arts and a particular notable impact through their work to raise awareness of the importance of civil courage and the value of democracy.

Their international hit show, Riot Days, produced by Alexander Cheparukhin and directed by Yury Muravitsky and has toured all over the world and the latest iteration was performed to sell out audiences at the Arts Centre last autumn, where the group, symbols of international freedom and protest, also met with students to share ideas and discuss their work.

Following the residency, the group were invited back to Canterbury by the University to honour their work promoting freedom and democracy.  During the ceremony the group performed a version of their song Mama, Don’t Watch TV – their ‘statement against the war that Putin started in Ukraine’.

 

 

David Sefton says “Pussy Riot are amongst the most important and certainly bravest artists working today - it’s entirely right and proper for them to be honoured by the University of Kent following their superb residency in the Gulbenkian. The last time they appeared in a cathedral they were censored and imprisoned - I feel very happy to be on the right side of history.

 

 

Pussy Riot is a Russian feminist protest art collective based in Moscow. Founded in March 2011, the group staged unauthorised provocative guerrilla punk rock performances in unusual public places, which were made into music videos and posted on the Internet. The collective's lyrical themes included feminism, LGBT rights, and opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom the group considered a dictator.

They gained global notoriety when five members of the group staged a Punk Prayer performance inside Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior in 2012. Pussy Riot members were convicted of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’, and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. The trial and sentence attracted considerable attention and criticism. The case was adopted by human-rights groups, including Amnesty International, which designated the women as prisoners of conscience, and by a number of prominent entertainers Pussy Riot has recorded and released several videos: ‘Putin Will Teach You To Love The Motherland’, ‘I Can't Breathe’ (named for the last words that Eric Garner said as New York City Police held him to the ground in a chokehold), ‘Chaika’, ‘Organs’, ‘Make America Great Again’. Pussy Riot appear regularly as speakers at international festivals, conferences and other events in the USA, Canada, all Europe, Australia, Singapore.

Their latest show Riot Days is produced by Alexander Cheparukhin and directed by Yury Muravitsky and has toured all over the world. The project has received prestigious international awards, including Herald Angel Award and Total Theatre Award of Edinburgh Festivals.

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