Why Did a Founding Member of Pussy Riot Agree to Pose for Alleged Sexual Abuser Terry Richardson?

Nadya and Pyotr, photograohed by Terry Richardson. Photo: Terry Richardson

Fans of the punk-feminist, anti-Putinist collective Pussy Riot have expressed disappointment and confusion after founding member Nadya Tolokonnikova posed for a series of pictures for fashion photographer and alleged sexual abuser Terry Richardson.

The images were posted on Richardson’s Tumblr on June 16 and Tolokonnikova’s Facebook page on June 17.

They have since been removed from Tolokonnikova’s Facebook after several fans complained, but the pictures of the activist and her husband, Pyotr, remain on “Terry’s Diary.”

The photo series is tame—especially by Richardson standards—and the pair appears to be having a great time. But the question of why the fiercely feminist artist and activist would agree to pose for someone with such a shady reputation remains.

As Jezebel points out, Tolokonnikova doesn’t speak much English and appears to not have been aware of the ongoing allegations against Richardson by multiple women who have modeled for him.

Nadya and Pyotr, photograohed by Terry Richardson. Photo: Terry Richardson

Nadya and Pyotr, photograohed by Terry Richardson.
Photo: Terry Richardson

“Try not to miss opportunities to learn from the experience of professionals, somehow,” the ex-Pussy Rioter wrote in response to criticism regarding the since-removed Facebook post, according to Jaime Peck on Death and Taxes.

Tolokonnikova seemed to enjoy her visit to Richardson’s studio, and wrote that the photographer is a big fan of the anarcho-punk group the Dead Kennedys. However, he reportedly played their most famous song, “Holiday in Cambodia,” during their shoot, which is a bit like ordering Pad Thai at an Asian fusion restaurant. It’s not original, and it’s never the best thing on the menu. The lyrics are especially loaded in this case, however: “Kiss ass while you bitch/So you can get rich/But your boss gets richer off you.”

“One wonders who ‘invited’ Tolokonnikova,” Julianne Escobedo Shepherd writes on Jezebel, “and…why her PR or whomever may have been guiding her through this most recent press tour didn’t happen to mention that a shoot with Terry Richardson would cast a shadow on her very righteous efforts.”

Of course, Tolokonnikova isn’t the first celebrity to catch flak for collaborating with Richardson, and as long as the fashion industry continues to gloss over the many allegations against him, she won’t be the last.


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