Pussy Riot – “I Can’t Breathe” Video

Pussy Riot have shared a video for a new song called “I Can’t Breathe,” which is dedicated to Eric Garner, who was killed by a police officer in July. “This song is for Eric and for all those from Russia to America and around the globe who suffer from state terror — killed, choked, perished because of war and state sponsored violence of all kinds — for political prisoners and those on the streets fighting for change,” the group wrote, introducing the song. The video was filmed in Moscow, and sees Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina buried alive in Russian police uniforms. The song itself was recorded in New York with a number of American collaborators, including Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner, Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt, and punk legend Richard Hell. The track also features vocals from Russian punk bands Jack Wood and Scofferlane. At the end of the song, Hell recites the last words Garner said before he was murdered. Watch the video below.

The music video is accompanied by a documentary made up of footage from the New York protests. It was directed by Maxim Pozdorovkin, who also directed A Punk Prayer.

In an interview with Pitchfork, Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina expanded on what inspired the video:

Several problems that have come up in the U.S. government system resemble Russian problems in a very painful way. In particular, the problem of police violence. We are interested in seeing how the American political system, which is in general more open than the Russian one, handles defects like these, and how the media and civil society can help it or force it to fix this situation.

We are convinced that right now we need to identify other countries as examples of how we can realistically implement our ideals in Russia, which one day will become more open and free. So we are prepared to suffer through problems in other countries as if they were our own. That’s why we joined the protests in New York and wrote “I Can’t Breathe.” It truly was inspired by what happened in the U.S., but it has an attitude forged in the Russia we are living in today, in which we are trying so desperately to do something useful.

In December 2014, we were recording an anti-war song cycle in studios in New York, and when the protests started there demanding a trial for the police officer who strangled Eric Garner, it didn’t take us too much time to decide to join in. We have to demand responsibility from our governments and we can never stop reminding government bureaucrats that they exist for our sake, and not the other way around. We gave those protests our support, even though we live in Russia, because police violence and death have no nationality. Dozens of people die agonizing deaths in Russian police stations, after being beaten, or tortured, or raped. We’ve experienced police cruelty first-hand. The state’s monopoly on force must be constantly monitored by society, or else that violence will get out of control.