Young actionist artists Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samutsevich decide to separate from the well-known actionist group Voina. They feel pressure of male participants of the group. They decide to create their own group that would express their ideas of female independence and liberty. That’s how the Pussy Riot is born, combining actionism, feminism, media activism and punk rock.
Participants of Pussy Riot choose the tactics of making shows in public places such as subway stations and trains, cafés, a roof of a trolleybus. They sing the songs they have written themselves, criticizing male chauvinism and authorities. But the reaction to their shows is not what they waited for. The girls are in a difficult situation. They have no money, no employment, they have to look on junkyards for the equipment and wear castoff clothes. But they feel commitment and they go on. Maria Alyokhina joins the group. They come to public attention after a show on the Lobnoye Mesto in the Red Square. They accuse the authorities of sexism, singing the song Putin turned chicken. This action gave them ten hours in a police station and some attention from mass media. Many girls decided to quit the group, but not Nadezhda, not Ekaterina, not Maria.
The Patriarch Cyril openly supports Vladimir Putin as presidential candidate, urging his faithful to vote for him at the elections. Pussy Riot decides to react, conducting a punk church service in the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Saviour: Mother of God, Chase Putin Away! Security stops the show 40 seconds after it started. The action becomes their greatest failure but journalists and cameramen manage to film it. The information about punk church service and a clip with the song are published in the Internet. The media version draws a wide response, splitting the society into supporters of the action and those who feel indignation.
The reaction of law enforcement was quick. Three participants of the punk church service are arrested and brought before the court. Their situation seems hopeless, they are threatened by seven years in prison. The prosecutor accuses them of hooliganism with the motive of religious hatred against Orthodox Christianity. This exaggerated attention of authorities, in turn, attracts to their action the eyes of the whole world.
In the beginning, it may seem the girls have no support at all. But suddenly, a number of world stars express their support for the artists – Red hot chili peppers, Paul McCartney, Madonna, Franz Ferdinand and many others. They are offered liberty if they agree with the prosecution and repent for their “crime” but they remain faithful to their position. The court sentences the artists to two years in prison. Their defeat in the court becomes their moral victory. Concluding speeches of girls in court show they are not broken, they believe in their righteousness. All over the world, thousands of protesters wear color balaclavas chanting “Liberty to Pussy Riot!”