Watch: Pussy Riot Releases New English-Language Music Video “I Can’t Breathe”

nullPussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina have released the group’s first song in English as a response to the killing of Eric Garner by NYPD officers last summer. 

"It’s getting dark, New York City/ I need to catch my breath," goes the chorus of their "industrial ballad," a song dedicated to “all who suffer from state terror – killed, choked, perished because of war and police violence – to political prisoners and those on the streets fighting for change.”

Wearing the uniform of Russia’s OMON riot police, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are buried alive in the four-minute, single-take video, which ends with Garner’s last words, performed by Richard Hell. But the video is also intended to protest Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. 

They continued, “We really could not breathe for this whole last year. Our previous ideas did not speak to what was happening in the conflict zone in Ukraine as we were realizing that Russia is burying itself alive in terms of the rest of the world. Committing suicide. Daily. And so the song ‘I Can’t Breathe’ is about us and our country as well. It is about Russia, too."

“The genre of this [song] isn’t like other Pussy Riot songs. It’s an industrial ballad. Dark and urban. The rhythm and beat of the song is a metaphor of the heartbeat, the beat of a heart before it’s about to stop. The absence of our usual aggressive punk vocals in this song is a reaction to this tragedy,” said Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina.

The two Pussy Riot famously spent 16 months in prison after performing an anti-government "punk prayer" in a Moscow cathedral.