Monday, September 01, 2014


Russia

Pussy Rioters Urge Americans To Take Hard Look At Russia

Maria Alyokhina (left) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot appear at a news conference in New York on February 4.
Maria Alyokhina (left) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot appear at a news conference in New York on February 4.

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Two touring members of the Russian punk protests collective Pussy Riot have urged Americans attending the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, Russia, to take a hard look at that country beyond the new sports facilities.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova made their first public appearance in the United States at a press conference in New York on February 4.

They are scheduled to take part in Amnesty International's "Bringing Human Rights Home" concert in Brooklyn the following day.

The two called on Russia to repeal laws restricting homosexual activity, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and other human rights activities.

They have been critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin and political conditions in their homeland. The opening ceremonies for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are scheduled for February 7.

The women were released in December after nearly two years in prison following a conviction for hooliganism when they staged an anti-Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral, wearing balaclavas and screaming lyrics.

"Due to what we saw in prison and due to all the things we've just mentioned, we've decided to start a human rights organization which will be called Rights Zone, to change all the things we believe have unjustly happened," Alyokhina said.

The two have vowed to work for inmates' rights.

Tolokonnikova spelled out their aims.

"Our goal is to bring more transparency to the Russian political system and to the Russian penitentiary system," Tolokonnikova said. "And this is part of everything we are doing right now."

When asked if they feared being thrown back in prison, Alyokhina said they were not scared.

"If a person goes to prison for his criticism of the political leadership of the government of his country, this simply demonstrates the political situation in the country," Alyokhina said.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina will be introduced at the Amnesty International concert by pop star Madonna and will speak but are not expected to perform at the event.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP

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