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Pussy Riot protest corporate pollution with new song and video “Black Snow”: Watch

on July 09, 2019, 11:22am

Since the games weren’t held in Russia this time, Pussy Riot were absent from the World Cup this summer. While the punk protestors didn’t make a repeat appearance on the pitch, they are back today with a new song of dissent, “Black Snow”.

This time around, Pussy Riot are taking corporate polluters to task. Over an industrial, trappy beat that interpolates a spooky version of “London Bridge is Falling Down”, the group’s Nadya Tolokonnikova and Mara 37 scream of the literal black snow and red rain that plagues parts of Russia. “Red water flows in Russian Russian rivers/ Dust sticks to my eyelids, I’m hanging on a thread,” they sing.

(Read: Protest Music Disappeared in a Year of Protests)

Though not mentioned in “Black Snow” directly, an open letter accompanying the song specifies that the song is targeting Russian mining corporation Nornickel. A major producer of nickel, palladium, platinum, and copper, Nornickel primarily digs in the industrial town of Norilsk — which just so happens to be Tolokonnikova childhood home. “The trees around Norislk are dead,”  Tolokonnikova writes in the letter addressed to “Putin and his Cronies.” “Their black branches pierce the sky – just like in those post-apocalyptic movies. Their leaves have necrosis from acid rain.”

Watch the video for “Black Snow” below, followed by Pussy Riot’s full letter detailing the environmental atrocities Russia allows Nornickel to get away with.

“Black Snow” follows last summer’s “КОШМАРЫ/NIGHTMARES” and “PONG!”. Pussy Riot Are set to appear at Ottawa Blues Fest this weekend, as well as All Together Now Festival in Ireland next month. They’re also on the lineup for Woodstock 2019, but well, don’t hold your breath.

To Putin and his cronies,
including Potanin, Prokhorov, Deripaska, and Abramovich

Norilsk, Daldykan river pussy riot black snow

Hey hey, it’s Nadya Tolokonnikova.

You might remember me for that 2-year prison sentence you slapped me with back in 2012, when performed a 40-second act of protest and beseeched the Virgin Mary to chase you away. I was 22 at the time, and my young daughter Gera had just turned four. But right now I’m not interested in talking about church or prison – I want to talk about a different issue. I want to talk about rivers of blood, black snow, toxic waste, and acid rain.

You fill the Russian North with unprocessed garbage (see Shiyes and 10 million tons of Moscow waste). You criminalize ecological activists (see 5 new cases against Alexandra Koroleva, the co-chair of Ecodefense!). Meanwhile, the inhabitants of Kuzbass are forced to seek environmental asylum in Canada to escape intolerable living conditions, high rates of oncological illness, black snow, poisoned water, and the indifference of local government officials. People in Kuzbass ask: “How can you be a patriot of something or someone who won’t even notice how we live? How we breathe? What we drink?” Listen, this is just completely unacceptable.

Norsilk pussy riot black snow

I was born and raised in the polar, industrial city of Norilsk – a city built on bones. The city was built by prisoners from the Norillag (or Norilsk Corrective Labor Camp). Over 500,000 people came through Norillag from 1935 to 1953 – every third prisoner perished while building the city. In Norilsk, winter lasts nine months, with temperatures as low as -45 degrees Celsius, and winds that go 20-25 meter per second. Snow starts to fall in September, only to be followed by nine months of winter, black blizzards, and permafrost. If that wasn’t enough to undermine the health of the locals – our icy hell is also deadly and toxic. Watch this compilation, “Norilsk: you won’t see this on TV,” on YouTube.

As a kid I used to play in slag. Yes, slag – so what? We had giant mountains of slag in our backyards and little bunches of grass would grow through them. As a six-year-old, I would rake up the slag and bring buckets of water from my house so these little bunches of grass could grow better.

The trees around Norislk are dead. Their black branches pierce the sky – just like in those post-apocalyptic movies. Their leaves have necrosis from acid rain.

norsilk russia pussy riot black snow

My hometown produces this kind of headlines: “A river in Norilsk has become ‘bloody’ again,” “Bloody rain over Norilsk.” Some people on the internet suggested that this dust or emissions from Nornickel, or maybe the radiation levels are too high (here are some posts on Instagram about the red rain: 1, 2).

Here’s a short list of what Nornickel dumps in the rivers: iron, nickel, petroleum products, lead, copper, chlorides, nitrates, calcium, magnesium, phosphates, zinc. Here’s a list of what goes in the air: sulfur dioxide, nitrates, sulfates, phenols, industrial dust, heavy metals. 2 million tons (!!!) of sulfur dioxide is emitted into the air by Nornickel every year. This is more than the sulfur dioxide emission of all of Western European countries. That’s 11 tons of sulfur dioxide per year for each resident of Norilsk.

 

Norilsk, Daldykan river. 2016 1 pussy riot black snow

Sometimes you can’t see neighboring houses in Norilsk because of the gas. I’ve never seen an aurora in Norilsk – the sky is smog.

When you go outside in Norilsk, you have to wrap yourself up in scarf – not just because of the blizzards, but because the sulfur dioxide burns your eyes, nose, mouth, and lungs. When combined with water, sulfur dioxide turns into sulfuric acid. If taiga larches get necrosis from the acid, what do you think is happening to your precious little aveoli? Nobody the hell knows.

In the morning, people make their way to school. A classmate of mine – she steps outside and starts coughing. She says that the air burns her lungs. Fuck. That means that the gas emissions in Norilsk are dozens, or maybe even hundreds of time higher than the maximum permissible concentration. My classmate, like many others in Norilsk, has had asthma since childhood – people with asthma can barely handle the gas emissions. Doctors say that people living in Norilsk are twice as likely as other people to develop cancer. On average, the life expectancy in Norilsk is 10 years shorter than in other parts of Russia.

The Nornickel headquarters aren’t based in Norilsk (big surprise!) – they’re based in Moscow, in the Mercury City Tower. The company owners include: Vladimir Potanin (30.4%), Deripaska (27.8%), Roman Abramovich (4.2%), and Alexander Abramov.

Vladimir Potanin’s fortune – $19 billion – was built by the labor of people forced to live in one of the dirtiest cities in the world. By some accounts, the amount of toxic waste in Norilsk exceeds even Chernobyl.

“The director of Nornickel, Vladimir Olegovich Potanin, was hospitalized in intensive care and is in serious condition. According to the doctors, his faced cracked, his butt stuck together, and his lips are turned up. The doctors are fighting for his life,” joke the miners.

Rosprirodnadzor allowed Nornickel to control its own atmospheric emissions. LOL. This isn’t corruption, it’s a “unique public-private partnership,” you’ll say. In response to citizens’ complaints, the corporation will say: If you don’t like it, then don’t work. Nornickel doesn’t give a shit. No one has greater protection than Nornickel. For example, when the Daldykan river in Norilsk turned blood red, Nornickel only paid a modest sum of 30,000 rubles.

Nornickel letter pussy riot black snow

Despite this demand from Norilsk’s prosecutor, a criminal case for polluting the environment was never opened. In this letter, a local prosecutor V.Kozlovsky, basically admits that NorNikel exceeds the acceptable pollution norms by 100-450 times, and even by 2400 times when it concerns copper pollution.

Norilsk was built by prisoners and my family works here now. But the city is controlled by a handful of super rich cismen with dubious reputations and poor ethical and aesthetic judgment (as we learned through the story of Nastya Rybka).

Regarding the above statements, I have a few questions, comments, and suggestions:

To Potanin
Do you feel the pressure of the Order of St. Sergius of Radonezh, given to you by the Russian Orthodox Church, when children in Norilsk develop lung cancer? You make millions more than the miners and metallurgists that work for Nornickel – but the miners and metallurgists spit out their lungs from their work. Do you really think that your labor is valuable and complicated to deserve millions? And if so, why? Have you ever been in the mountains for anything other than skiing?

To Deripaska
Damn you really managed to fuck up Krasnoyarsk with your aluminum factories. When I went to visit my grandma, I saw that same black snow again. Spend some of that money on sewage treatment centers – you can’t spend it all on yachts, for fuck’s sake.

To Putin
I envision that soon we will create a progressive, Russian environmental party. We will have the majority in parliament, we will cooperate with the management of the country, and we will be as thick as thieves.

To Everyone
Corporations, especially those that use natural resources, cannot exist with public control. Each of us should be able to see and influence what is happening in these corporations. The decisions made by corporations like Nornickel don’t just affect Potanin, Abramovich, Deripaska, or Putin – they affect me, you, some guy, and the kids and grandkids of that guy. Toxic emissions don’t dissolve – they accumulate and cause mutations in humans and animals alike, and they will lead to irreversible environmental catastrophe.

I’m not suggesting that we immediately close all factories, but the way I see it – humanity has two options. Either we leave things as they are and we just die out, turning our planet into Chernobyl and Norilsk. Or we figure out how to build a technologically advanced civilization that uses renewable energy sources for its industries.

The lack of corporate control is not a uniquely Russian problem – activists all over the world are calling on corporations to take responsibility for their actions. But in Russia, the corporations are especially heinous because of the hellish corruption in the country. The rule of law doesn’t apply to corporations. But what we can do is take power into our own hands – this takes a certain level of arrogance. We need to act like we have already won – we need to act like we live in a clean Russia of the future, where we elect and be elected, where the media is free and independent, where we can create autonomous environmental watchdogs, where we can support Great Thunberg and “Fridays for Future,” where we can go outside and be organic kittens.

I love you – but I don’t love Putin.
xx Nadya

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