Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer – Drive Putin Away! (2011)

15 Aug

While the main focus of this site is material issued in the past, primarily during the 1960s and 1970s, it seems important to include some version of this song here. Its performance inside the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ The Saviour in Moscow in 2011 has resulted in an ongoing show trial in which three members of the Moscow feminist collective – Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samoutsevitch and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova – face up to seven years imprisonment for the stated crime of ‘hooliganism’, with the location of the protest seen as key to formenting the required outrage at their ‘desecration’ of its sacred space. In fact, it appears – from both the song’s deliberately provocative lyric and statements by the defendants themselves – that the target was not the church, or the Theotokos (Mother of God) who is addressed in the song, but the very particular financial corruption and politicisation of the Orthodox church in support of Putin by Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyayev, Patriarch of Moscow, who is named in the song. The Lord of Gundyayev’s church, the song alleges, is no longer God, but Putin himself. Gundyayev has undoubtedly put the weight of his position behind Putin, describing his rule as “a miracle of God” and his opponents (including Pussy Riot) as “doing the work of Satan” and deserving of punishment. The song, then, does not attack religion, per se, nor desecrate the Cathedral, but rather attempts to issue a plea to the Virgin that the desecration already visited upon the Orthodox faith be stopped, and the false God of Putin be driven away. Despite this, it’s widely assumed that the state prosecutors are out to make an example of the defendants in a context of escalating opposition within Russia to Putin’s regime, points explicitly raised in the eloquent closing statement to the trial of Yekaterina Samutsevich.

Finally, a few points regarding this English presentation of the lyric. The version below is collated from several online translations, including one set alongside footage of the Cathedral protest, which show only fairly minor variations and so seem likely to be reasonably accurate English renditions: it is not made directly from the Russian, which I’m not qualified to do anyway. The Russian lyric runs as follows (text is taken from the version posted on the group’s own livejournal blog). There are many active petitions and planned actions for those who wish to register opposition to the Moscow prosecutors, details of which can be found on the links here [Russian language] and here [English language]. [Footnote: shortly after I posted this, Modern Poetry in Translation posted its own version, by the poet Sasha Dugdale, and further information about the trial and events in support of the women].

Богородица, Дево, Путина прогони
Путина прогони, Путина прогони

Черная ряса, золотые погоны
Все прихожане ползут на поклоны
Призрак свободы на небесах
Гей-прайд отправлен в Сибирь в кандалах

Глава КГБ, их главный святой
Ведет протестующих в СИЗО под конвой
Чтобы Святейшего не оскорбить
Женщинам нужно рожать и любить

Срань, срань, срань Господня
Срань, срань, срань Господня

Богородица, Дево, стань феминисткой
Стань феминисткой, феминисткой стань

Церковная хвала прогнивших воджей
Крестный ход из черных лимузинов
В школу к тебе собирается проповедник
Иди на урок – принеси ему денег!

Патриарх Гундяй верит в Путина
Лучше бы в Бога, сука, верил
Пояс девы не заменит митингов –
На протестах с нами Приснодева Мария!

Богородица, Дево, Путина прогони
Путина прогони, Путина прогони

A Punk Prayer: Drive Putin Away!

(after Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samoutsevitch and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 2011)

Maria, Mother, Virgin,
drive Putin away, drive Putin away!

Black robes and epaulettes of gold,
parishioners are crawling and bowing.
The spirit of liberty is up in Heaven,
Gay Pride’s been sent to Siberia, chained.

Their chief saint is the head of the KGB
who sends protesters under escort to prison.
In order not to offend the holy
women have only to give birth and love.

Holy shit, this lord is shit!
Maria, Mother, Virgin,
become a feminist, become a feminist now!

This church praises rotten dictators;
black limousines in procession carry its cross.
In school you’re thrown to a preacher –
get into class, bring him hard cash!

Patriarch Gundyayev believes in Putin.
Putin’s bitch should believe in God.
No belt of the Virgin can replace meetings
to protest what’s done in a Virgin’s name.

Maria, Mother, Virgin,
drive Putin away, drive Putin away!

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