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Pussy Riot Members Criticize Amnesty Concert

  • RFE/RL

Six members of a prominent Russian female punk protest group have criticized a concert staged in New York by Amnesty International at which Pussy Riot received top billing.
In a letter posted on Pussy Riot's blog on February 6, the day after the concert, the anonymous members reminded organizers that the two Russian activists who appeared on stage -- Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina -- had publicly quit the group, choosing instead to pursue a human rights agenda.
The letter also criticized a concert poster featuring a male guitarist in a balaclava, a group trademark, and said the selling of tickets contravened Pussy Riot's principles.
"We only stage illegal performances in unexpected public places," the collective said.

U.S. pop star Madonna introduced Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina at the Amnesty concert, calling it "my privilege and my honor."
Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina, and fellow Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested in March 2012 after a "punk prayer" against Russian President Vladimir Putin performed at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow in February.
The three were later convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced to two years in jail.
Samutsevich was later freed with a suspended sentence after a successful appeal.
Tolokonnikova reiterated to the New York crowd her desire to see a "free" Russia:
"We will not forgive and will not forget what our authorities are doing to our fellow citizens," Tolokonnikova said. "So we demand -- and will demand -- a Russia without Putin, and we will demand a Russia that is free."
The sentences against Tolokonnikova, 24, and Alyokhina, 25, were condemned by Western governments and rights groups as disproportionate.
They were freed from Russian penal colonies in December, three months before the end of their two-year sentences.
Soon after, they pledged to campaign for inmates' rights, saying that they do not plan either to take part in Pussy Riot concerts or to use the Pussy Riot brand.
However, media both in Russia and abroad continue to call the two women members of Pussy Riot, and the two appear to do little to dissuade that notion.
Since the women were arrested, there have been no more guerrilla Pussy Riot performances in public places, although a music video targeting Russia's oil industry was published in July 2013, apparently by a splinter group that had set up a new website.
Based on reporting by AFP and RFE/RL
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