Two members of Pussy Riot were detained by police in Moscow, as a music industry insider revealed he was paid $30,000 to start a rap battle.
Two members of Pussy Riot were detained by police in separate incidents on the same weekend that approximately 1,000 people were arrested on the streets of Moscow in protest the Russian government’s plan to in increase the age of retirement.
Pussy Riot protester Nika Nikulshina and friends were stopped and arrested in their car while in the capital. Russian police insist Nikulshina refused a “terrorist check” on their vehicle, which is why she ended up in custody but the official Pussy Riot Twitter account blasted the “crazy accusations. In a statement to Pitchfork, Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova said, “Nika is charged with 19.3 article, the same one as they got after the world cup. but this time she was in the car driving with her friend. They stopped her and arrested.” Nikulshina was due to appear in court later today. On the same day, Peter Verzilov—who has often acted as an unofficial spokesman for the protest group—was arrested for unspecified reasons while leaving his home. Both were involved in protests during a pitch invasion at the World Cup earlier this year and were charged with “violation of spectators’ rights” by Russian police.
The crackdown on dissent comes in the face of mass public unease over president Vladimir Putin’s plans to increase the retirement age; the age of retirement for men will be increased from 60 to 65, and for women is rises to 60 from 55, despite the World Health Organization saying life expectancy for a man is just 66, while the average age women are expected to live until is 77.
Taking place without any official permit or warrant, police came down heavily on anyone found to be out on the streets causing a disruption. Some Russians told The Guardian they had stayed away because they feared arrest.
The rallies were called for by the jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny and were timed to coincide with recent local elections throughout the country. Navalny was arrested at the end of August for his involvement in political protests and has said officials purposely arrested him in order to keep him from leading the planned demonstrations over this past weekend.
But Putin’s reign isn’t just being felt in the streets. Google agreed to remove a Navalny campaign video from YouTube after the Russian government complained they violated laws restricting any political campaigning 24 hours prior to an election, and a music industry insider has come forward to reveal he was paid almost $30,000 to spark a rap battle between two bloggers.
In an interview for BBC Russia, Stanislav Smolyaninov confirmed Russian rapper Gnoiny was asked to produce a track, directed at Nikolai Sobolev. The video released back in April says Sobolev that he “spreads info like a plague-sick rat”, and is thought to be a response to Sobolev’s role in spreading conspiracy theories about the shopping mall fire in Kemerovo that killed 40 people in March this year.