CULTURE & ARTS
03/21/2017 11:33 am ET

Pussy Riot Offers Advice On How To Defy ‘Stupid Ape’ Donald Trump

"We must not give [him] our fear."

When it comes to defiance, Nadya Tolokonnikova of Russian punk band Pussy Riot could be considered a pro.

In 2012, Pussy Riot staged a guerilla performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. The show mocked Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church, which led to Tolokonnikova and fellow bandmate Maria Alekhina receiving a two-year prison sentence.

In a March 20 opinion piece that Tolokonnikova wrote for Foreign Policy, she calls President Donald Trump a “stupid ape” and says that at the moment, he should be easy to resist — at least in comparison to Putin.

In her column, Tolokonnikova discusses how the U.S. commander-in-chief and Putin are alike, writing that both operate with the same “caveman psychology” and have gained power by harping on people’s fears and anger to make themselves more powerful. But she also argues that Trump is the lesser of two evils because he lacks Putin’s tyrannical force.

When they are angry, they lash out. For Trump, it is with tweets. Putin has more power, so he puts his enemies in jail. These are just the knee-jerk reactions of children acting out when they feel rejected or scared. Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot

“When they are angry, they lash out,” she wrote. “For Trump, it is with tweets. Putin has more power, so he puts his enemies in jail. These are just the knee-jerk reactions of children acting out when they feel rejected or scared.”

She continues by putting things in perspective.

“[Trump] is not a great revolutionary or an arbiter of a movement. He can’t change the country in one day,” she wrote. “He’s just a stupid ape.”

But Tolokonnikova doesn’t think we should underestimate Trump, either.

“It’s important to remember that, for example, in Russia, for the first year of when Vladimir Putin came to power, everybody was thinking that it will be O.K.,” Tolokonnikova told The New York Times shortly after the Trump won the election.

Tolokonnikova
KAY NIETFELD via Getty Images
Tolokonnikova

In her Foreign Policy column, Tolokonnikova also stresses that those who resist Trump have to be a “pain in the ass” and “prepare to fight for [change] much longer than you think,” citing how while in jail with Alyokhina, the women would protest whenever possible and went on hunger strikes. 

Tolokonnikova gestures before a court hearing in Moscow in 2012.
NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA via Getty Images
Tolokonnikova gestures before a court hearing in Moscow in 2012.

Tolokonnikova admits that these acts of resistance were not easy, but felt her defiance would eventually improve the lives of others and found solace in that. 

“Men like Putin and Trump think they can smash people. Putin thought that he could break us,” she wrote in Foreign Policy. “But even in jail we still had our minds, our souls, and our happiness. In the end, we never gave up. And that is how you push back against Trump, Putin, and all those other assholes just like them. We must not give them our fear.”

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