Are These Convicted Russian Twerkers the Next Pussy Riot?

A still from the offending twerk video that landed three Russian women in jail.
A still from the offending twerk video that landed three Russian women in jail.

Are these Russian dancers the next Pussy Riot? A group of young Russian women have been convicted of “hooliganism” for a video showing them twerking in front of the Malayra Zemlya World War II memorial in Novorossiysk, near the Black Sea.

The same charge was leveled at Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, the two members of Pussy Riot who served 21 months in jail for a provocative anti-Putin performance at the Moscow cathedral in 2012 (see Pussy Riot Sues Russia and Pussy Riot on Art, Activism, and Their Name’s Hilarious Russian Translation).

The twerking music video, shot to promote the local modern dance school, carries a lighter punishment: just 15 days for Margarita Radetskaya, 18, and 10 each for Yana Kutakova, 24, and Yekaterina Scherbedinskaya, 26. Alla Korkach, 28, and Viktoria Yurieva, 22, got off with fines due to health problems, while charges are pending against the parents of the sixth dancer, who is underage, for “the failure to encourage the physical, intellectual, physiological, spiritual and moral development of a child.”

Prosecutors decried the “erotic and sexual twerk dance,” set to the sounds of Aidonia’s “Touch You Tonight,” as an unacceptable “incident of disrespect for the memory of war history.” Twerking hit the mainstream in 2013 thanks in large part to pop star Miley Cyrus (see Jeffrey Deitch Compares “Remarkable” Miley Cyrus to Mike Kelley).

All in all, the routine was decidedly tame compared to the first twerk scandal to rock Russia this month: a completely butt-centric performance by a teenage dance troupe. The number opened with Russia’s version of Winnie the Pooh, Vinni-Pukh, searching for honey, but quickly devolved into a two-minute exercise in hip gyration from stripping, twerking dancers dressed as honeybees.

A war memorial may not have been involved, but some of the backlash against that video has been aimed at the black and yellow costumes, the same colors as the St. George ribbon, which symbolizes Russia’s victory in World War II. The dance studio has reportedly been shut down during the investigation, and could face charges of “perverted deeds,” which can carry a sentence of up to 10 years behind bars.

See the dance video that landed three women in Russian jail: 


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