Pussy Riot is an all-female feminist-punk art collective currently on trial in Russia for staging public performances in protest of their government. They are smart women. Frustrated women. And they are catalysts, reviving ideas of unapologetic feminism on a worldwide scale and proving that shit is still fucked up and there is so much work to be done. Their fight against the patriarchy is a literal one—after being arrested five months ago, three of them are now being put through a ridiculous trial, where the lines between church and state are blurred beyond recognition. Pussy Riot has no formal membership, tries to operate anonymously, and cites the riot grrrl movement as inspiration. According to a member of the collective: "We developed what they did in the 1990s, although in an absolutely different context and with an exaggerated political stance, which leads to all of our performances being illegal—we'll never gig in a club or special musical space." Now they face up to seven years in prison. I was in awe of Pussy Riot—and their focus on gender and LGBT rights and rejection of male dominance, not to mention their neon aesthetic—even before fully understanding what they were up against. In case you've just started to pay attention, here's Pussy Riot's story so far.

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September 2011: Pussy Riot forms in protest of Vladimir Putin's third term as president, citing brutal corruption, poverty, and the loss of civil rights under his leadership. Putin has been either prime minister or president of Russia since 1999. To remain anonymous, Pussy Riot wear brightly colored balaclavas.

January 2012: Pussy Riot stages a performance on Red Square to a song with the lyrics "Revolt in Russia! Putin pissed himself! Revolt in Russia! We exist!"

February 21: Five members of Pussy Riot storm Moscow's main Orthodox church to perform a "punk prayer"—dancing, jumping, and shouting the chorus "Virgin Mary, become feminist/Virgin Mary, chase Putin away." Guards remove the women after less than one minute.

March 3—16: After Pussy Riot's videos of the performances become popular online, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich are arrested on grounds of suspected hooliganism and held without bail.

April 3: Amnesty International calls for Pussy Riot's release and recognizes them as "prisoners of conscience" due to "the severity of the response of the Russian authorities."

June 4: The women are served with a formal indictment 2,800 pages long and face five to seven years in prison. The case causes outrage, and Russian society is split; many believe they should be punished for offending the church, while others insist the punishment is unfair.

July 4: Without warning, the three arrested women are notified they will have to finish preparing for their defense by July 9. They respond with a hunger strike, saying only two working days is not enough time to prepare for trial.

July 30: The Pussy Riot trial begins. The prosecutor demands three years in a labor camp for each defendant. The defense reports that the women have not been allowed adequate food, sleep, or medical attention. During appearances in court, they are kept in a glass and wood cage, watched by a "rotating cast of guard dogs... lest the three women try to run away from the glass 'aquarium' in which they are locked during the trial," the New Yorker reports. Court sessions often last more than 10 hours.

August 3: There are reports of journalists being kept out of the courtroom. According to the Russian Legal Information Agency: "During the trial, the defense attorneys have also not had the opportunity to meet with their clients confidentially. The court has dismissed all of the defense's appeals, and has not allowed witnesses for the defense or members of the press or the public to testify."

August 6: The prosecution calls "injured parties" as witnesses, such as church security guards, a candle keeper, church cleaners, and a treasurer. According to the New Yorker, witnesses testify to being "profoundly offended" by the "loud, inappropriate" color of Pussy Riot's dresses, their lack of sleeves, etc., and the candle keeper says, "They basically spat in my face, in my soul, in my Lord's soul." Even though the women performed for less than one minute in balaclavas and tights while the church was empty, a witness claims to have identified one of the women "by her calf muscles." Rolling Stone reports that a real estate agent who also testifies watched the performance online and feels that "Pussy Riot declared war on God, Christianity, and the government." Meanwhile, the defense petitions seven times for Judge Marina Syrova to be removed because of her apparent interest in convicting the group. But reportedly the court's rules state that only the judge can determine whether or not she should be removed.

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August 8: Closing statements are given. All three members have pleaded not guilty to charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. The verdict is expected on August 17, but Alyokhina has said: "I am not afraid of your poorly concealed fraud of a verdict in this so-called court because it can deprive me of my freedom. No one will take my inner freedom away."

You can help by donating to Pussy Riot at www.freepussyriot.org—all proceeds go to the Pussy Riot legal defense fund. recommended