Russian punk group Pussy Riot supports Hong Kong pro-democracy campaign

Two Members of Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot joined Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigners on November 3rd to defend freedom of expression as Beijing tightens its grip on the semi-autonomous city.

The punk group shot to global recognition in 2012 after they staged a “punk prayer” protest against President Vladimir Putin inside a cathedral in Moscow. They have continued to stage highly visible protests against the government despite members being jailed.

Members, Veronika Nikulshina and Olga Kurachyova, spoke alongside leading Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong at a panel discussion that was supposed to accompany the launch of a highly anticipated art show by Chinese political cartoonist Badiucao.

That show was cancelled on Friday with Hong Kong organisers citing safety concerns due to “threats made by Chinese authorities relating to the artist”.

“We are very sorry to know that things are getting worse here. I think it is very important to be here now just to express our solidarity,” Ms Kuracheva said during the packed panel discussion on freedom of art and expression, held at a studio in Hong Kong.

Kuracheva and Nikulshina said threats to exhibitions and political art events are “common practice” in Russia. Kuracheva encouraged people to speak out against the threats. “I would advise people not to be afraid because one voice is not so much … but voices of solidarity should sound loud,” she told the audience.

Their message to the young people of Hong Kong is to keep fighting: “Hong Kong’s umbrella [movement] protest with Joshua Wong – it was amazing. Young people are a power, a great power with all the energy and beliefs inside them.”

Hong Kong has rights unseen on the mainland, protected by an agreement made before the city was handed back to China by Britain in 1997, but there are serious concerns those freedoms are under threat.

There was a major backlash against Hong Kong authorities when they denied a visa without explanation to a Financial Times journalist last month who had chaired a press club talk by a Hong Kong independence activist.

Wong called on members of civil society around the world to share their experiences in order to gain “more bargaining power” in pushing for human rights and freedoms.

The two members are also supposed to be in Hong Kong to attend “Miles of Love”, a forum on global LGBT rights in the travel industry at The Eaton Hong Kong, in Jordan.