Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova On Her New Anti-Trump Song The song and video, "Make America Great Again," reflect Tolokonnikova's concern about the U.S. election's outcome. "It will influence everybody else's lives outside America," she says.

Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova On Her New Anti-Trump Song

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OK. Four years ago, the world learned the name Pussy Riot, a Russian art collective whose members were all women. Members of that group staged a punk rock demonstration in a church in protest of Russia's President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Church's support of his presidential campaign. Some members of that group were arrested. They were charged with hooliganism. And they spent two years in prison.

Pussy Riot gained many supporters around the world, which some say put pressure on Vladimir Putin to release them. But today inside Russia, the protest movement is suffering as some prominent opposition politicians have been killed.

NADEZHDA TOLOKONNIKOVA: A lot of Russian people who would consider political action for themselves, they think right now they would be killed because it's not just words right now - it happens.

GREENE: That's Nadya Tolokonnikova. She's one of the founding members of Pussy Riot who was imprisoned. While she still creates art in protest of Vladimir Putin and his policies, she's recently set her sights on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. She has a new song and music video. It is called "Make America Great Again."


PUSSY RIOT: (Singing) Let other people in. Listen to your women. Stop killing black children. Make America great again.

GREENE: I want to hear about the "Make America Great Again" video. How did you come up with this idea?

TOLOKONNIKOVA: I was laying in my bed at 4 a.m. without any sleep and I started to think about Donald Trump.

GREENE: You...


GREENE: ...Does that happen often?

TOLOKONNIKOVA: (Laughter) Yeah. But not sexually because I wouldn't [expletive] him for sure.

GREENE: OK. I am glad - I'm glad that we have clarified that.

TOLOKONNIKOVA: I have no idea why anybody could consider Donald Trump sexually attractive. I just started to think about Trump and what he's doing. He's stigmatizing people. And it's not just words because words, they cause physical consequences. They cause rapes. They cause imprisonment. That what Putin was doing in the last few years. He created what we call in Russia the atmosphere of hatred. And that's what Donald Trump is doing here right now. He's creating an environment where it's OK to speak about sexual assaults.

GREENE: Some might say that Donald Trump cannot be compared to Vladimir Putin because if he's president, he will be democratically elected. I mean, there are protections in place in a democracy that would prevent many of the abuses that we see in your country from Vladimir Putin. That's not stuff that Donald Trump would or could ever do.

TOLOKONNIKOVA: You're right. You're right. You couldn't really compare Russia and the United States luckily yet.

GREENE: There are people who support Donald Trump. And, you know, I think about your video and, you know, how you have this scene where the police are beating you because you're from Russia and you have a Russian passport. I mean, people who support Donald Trump might say he's just trying to keep out dangerous people from, you know, from coming into the United States.

TOLOKONNIKOVA: So Trump easily draw borders. He would tell you that Mexican are rapists and you need to ban all Muslims. But it is so easy to draw this line. But it could ruin person's life. As it happened in my story, when these so-called Christians came to our court and they were, like, yeah, you were trying to destroy our - religion. And you will suffer from that. You will pay with your life for that.

GREENE: Let me ask you, I mean, there are - there's so many issues to confront in your country. Why did you decide to get involved in the U.S. presidential election and do a video and do art about that?

TOLOKONNIKOVA: I have to say that American politics influence the world politics. And America was on purpose - was trying to be a world policeman. Because in a lot of ways it really interferes in another country's politics. I'm not discussing is it a good or bad thing, but it is a thing. So that's why it will influence everybody else lives outside America. So that's why it is important for me as a Russian citizen.

GREENE: You know, you were beloved by many Americans. Many Americans were very worried about you when you were serving your prison time. Do you feel like you accomplished what you wanted to through Pussy Riot?

TOLOKONNIKOVA: It was a lot of different things. I solved a lot of my own problems, which was - Vladimir Putin is about to come to third presidential term. And if I would just sit on my ass and do nothing, I will feel like a piece of [expletive] and I will commit suicide. So, yes, I end up in jail. But it's better than doing nothing. So, yeah, some goals were achieved. We could - we are not at the point where we could say we stop. We don't stop.

GREENE: Where are you living these days?

TOLOKONNIKOVA: I'm living between Moscow and Los Angeles, where I have some of my collaborators. And they spend some time in Europe.

GREENE: And you have a daughter, right?


GREENE: Are you living partly in the United States because you're worried about her growing up in today's Russia?

TOLOKONNIKOVA: I couldn't announce my plans for her yet. Right now she stays in Moscow, though she spent quite a lot of time with me in other countries. I believe that I don't want her to leave Russia for long time. I want her to know Russian language. I want her to know Russian culture because, yeah, Russia is beautiful.

GREENE: Nadya, it is always a pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much.

GREENE: Thank you.


GREENE: That was Nadya Tolokonnikova, a founding member of Pussy Riot. The new release from Pussy Riot is called "XXX" and it includes the song "Make America Great Again." It's out today.

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