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If You Twerk in Russia, They Will Probably Throw You in Jail

Putin’s strange, ongoing war against booty-shaking.

If you’re a flashy dancer, now might not be the best time to visit Russia. Recently a group of “aspiring pop stars” got down and twerk-y in front of a pivotal war memorial in Novorissiysk and found themselves detained by authorities, fired from their jobs, and expelled from school.


On April 24th, one of the girls posted a YouTube video of the group’s moves, which quickly prompted authorities to arrest three, with the leader jailed for 15 days. Two others were fined, as well as one mother of an underage dancer. The mother of the group’s leaders told Russian news outlet Yod that her lawyer had informed her that if the girls’ parents appeal the arrests, their punishments could be lengthened or changed. Prosecutors have been busy investigating whether the girls violated the national law on “the desecration by a group of an architectural foundation dedicated to the fight against fascism.” Surely the irony of jailing a group exercising its, uh, free speech in front of an anti-fascist memorial is not lost on the international press. As Vocativ mentioned in its piece, Russia’s War on Twerking, “This is the second twerking-related investigation Russian authorities have launched in the past month. The first focused on dozens of underage girls actually twerking in bumble bee costumes in a dance performance. That was more of a case under the guise of pedophilia. This is more a case under the guise of patriotism.”

This week is especially important to the apparently fragile patriotic Russian spirit, as the nation revvs up for the 70th anniversary celebration of its victory over Germany in World War II on May 9. Russia has been cracking down on anything that could possibly be considered pro-Nazi, anti-Russian or pro-fascist. With this new arrest, apparently the strong message is that “every time you twerk, the enemy wins.” Or maybe, perhaps, the real reason for the crack down is just that a particularly infamous shirt-less horse back rider doesn’t want to share the limelight?