Three young women in southern Russia will serve up to 15 days in prison, on charges of hooliganism, after posting a video of themselves performing the hip-hop dance on YouTube, with a war memorial looming in the background.
Two more of the six women in the video had their punishments
reduced to a fine, for health reasons. One of the dancers was
under 16, and avoided punishment, which was transferred to her
mother, who was reprimanded for failing to “carry out
measures to ensure the proper physical, intellectual,
psychological, spiritual and moral development of the
child,” a court in the city of Novorossiysk ruled on
Russian news website LifeNews reported that after the video first
surfaced earlier this week, it was brought to the attention of
the mayor of Novorossiysk, where the women reside, who was
“outraged” and personally charged officials with
identifying the names of the performers, who posted the video to
bring new recruits to their modern dance school.
“We condemn these women. Every inch of this land is covered
in blood. It is inappropriate,” said Viktoriya Dikaya, the
press secretary for the city’s education department.
Prosecutors in Novorossiysk said they are conducting sweeping
checks at the institutions were the twerkers, who were all under
30, are enrolled, to make sure they are in compliance with
“programs aimed at ensuring respect for the law among their
The Malaya Zemlya memorial, completed in 1982, which is seen
behind the twerkers, commemorates a battle to free Novorossiysk
from German occupation in 1943.
The response to the twerking video, appears to have taken root
from two widely-discussed controversies.
Pussy Riot, a Russian punk rock protest
a dance and anti-Putin song in Moscow’s Christ the Savior
Cathedral in 2011, and were similarly imprisoned for hooliganism,
albeit for much lengthier terms. A society-wide debate followed
on the limits of free expression, and what constitutes
With the 70th anniversary of the Victory Day only weeks away, and
piety towards World War II at an all-time high, the twerking
performance could be viewed in a similar light, although the
dancers apparently exhibited no political intent in their
The second issue appears to be a new-found intolerance for
twerking among Russian officials, despite the dance being taught
to thousands of youths throughout the country. A suggestive
twerking video performed by teenagers in front of their parents
in Orenburg earlier this month, led to a federal investigation
for “lewdness,” with the Russia’s children’s ombudsman
calling the choreographers “swine.” City officials soon
officially shut the dance school that put together the routine.
In one notable difference with the current case, most of the
twerkers in Orenburg were underage.
Parallels have also been drawn in the media with the Soviet era,
when the authorities disapproved of boogie-woogie, the foxtrot
and other “ideologically alien” dances.