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New Video Highlights Pussy Riot Rift


A video released on July 16 appears to show the Pussy Riot punk performance collective pouring scorn on Russia's oil industry.

A video released on July 16 appears to show the Pussy Riot punk performance collective pouring scorn on Russia's oil industry.

A new video released on July 16 by Russia's Pussy Riot has exposed bitter divisions within the feminist punk performance-art group.

"Like in a Red Prison," Pussy Riot's first performance in almost a year, takes aim at the Kremlin's tight grip on Russia's lucrative oil industry.

The video shows four members dressed in trademark balaclavas and garish dresses dancing on the roof of a filling station and on an oil pipeline, where they pour what appears to be oil over a portrait of Igor Sechin -- the head of the Rosneft oil firm and a close ally of President Vladimir Putin.

The women also accuse Putin of homophobia -- an apparent reference to a recent law targeting homosexuals in Russia -- and reiterate their criticism of his close ties with the Russian Orthodox Church.

ALSO READ:Amid Controversy, New Pussy Riot Video Targets Oil Industry

The group shot to fame last year after staging a guerilla performance in Moscow's largest Orthodox cathedral that landed three of its members in prison.

The latest video, however, has highlighted simmering tensions within the loosely formed collective.

Hours after its release, one of the group's only three identified members rejected the clip as a "fake."

Yekaterina Samutsevich, jailed for the performance at the cathedral but later released on probation, claimed on Twitter that the new video was not the work of Pussy Riot.
Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich

Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich


"This video has nothing to do with the group," she told RFE/RL. "Maybe it was made by people who wanted to back us, as a show of support. We are happy that people are active and like our ideas. But I ask them to avoid confusion with names and to identify such actions as support."

But Pyotr Verzilov, the husband of jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and one of the group's most vocal advocates, insists the video is authentic.

He claims to have personally discussed preparations for the stunt with Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who are both serving two-year prison sentences, and says they had given it the green light.

Verzilov, who has actively promoted the video on the Internet, says Tolokonnikova even wrote some of the lyrics for the new song.

"Nadia and Masha were fully informed of the planned performance and, as far as I know, they entirely support it and consider Pussy Riot as its author," he said. "There have been disagreements in members' understanding of how things should be done. But since the performance was backed by Nadia and Masha, I consider the topic closed."

Rotating Membership

Samutsevich in turn, dismissed Verzilov's claims as "not true" and stressed that "he is not a member of the group."

Pussy Riot is believed to have roughly 15 members, all of whom -- aside from Samutsevich, Tolokonnikova, and Alyokhina -- are anonymous.

Membership in the collective is rotating, with members interchanging stage names and outfits, a structure that may have helped fuel the current dispute.

Samutsevich has also clashed with her former lawyers, Nikolai Polozov and Violetta Volkova, who she claims refused to return her personal belongings, including her passport and a letter from the European Court of Human Rights.

She filed a formal complaint with the Moscow Chamber of Lawyers, which she later retracted.

She has accused another former lawyer, Mark Feigin, of seeking to cash in on the group's fame by attempting to register the Pussy Riot trademark.

Feigin denied any wrongdoing and says he was in fact seeking to protect the collective from attempts to misuse its name.

Pussy Riot, as a potential brand, is estimated to have a commercial value of at least $1 million.

WATCH: Pussy Riot perform "Like in a Red Prison"
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