Election 2020

Pussy Riot Backs Bernie for President

Members of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot Nadya Tolokonnikova, center, and Maria Alyokhina attend a news conference in the Capitol on May 6, 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Russia’s preeminent Putin-protest punk rockers have decided that they’re feeling the Bern.

And the feminist Pussy Riot isn’t listening to Madeleine Albright’s chiding that there’s a special place in hell for women not supporting Hillary Clinton.

The Russian rockers still focus on protesting the Putin regime, but they aren’t strangers to politics.

Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who served more than a year behind bars for performing an anti-Putin song in an Orthodox church, were on Capitol Hill in 2014 as the guests of Helsinki Commission chairman Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and commission member Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.).

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina made the rounds in Washington to lobby for “prompt, full, and ongoing implementation” of Cardin’s Magnitsky Act, a 2012 law passed with strong bipartisan support that sanctions human rights offenders in Russia.

Pussy Riot has gotten support from both sides of the aisle, though not always mentioning their name.

“They throw the members of a punk rock band in jail for the crime of being provocative and vulgar and for having the audacity to protest President Putin’s rule,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wrote of the Kremlin in a Pravda editorial.

“PresO shld attack the ridiculous sentence given punk band members by Commissar Putin jurists. Nothing is wrong w free speech,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeted in his shorthand style in 2012. “I reread PresO condemnation of sentencing of Russian punk group. But he condemn wrong authorities he shld attack commissar Putin the star.”

“I’m going to declaim from articulating their name and leave it to other sources,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said in a 2014 speech on Russia.

The group released their first English-language single last year: “I Can’t Breathe,” in honor of Eric Garner, who died in 2014 after being confronted by NYPD officers on suspicion of selling loose cigarettes and placed in a chokehold.