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Pussy Riot: The Early Years

One year ago, on February 21, 2012, three members of the Pussy Riot activist group were arrested on charges of hooliganism for performing a protest song at Moscow's Christ the Savior Church. The group has since gained international recognition, both for their political activism and for the harsh response they provoked from the Russian state. Two of the activists, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, are due to be released in March 2014; another, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on appeal with a suspended sentence. Here's a look at the early activism of Pussy Riot members and their allies before the group rose to fame.

Activists Yekaterina Samutsevich (left), Oleg Vorotnikov (center), and Natalia Sokol travel on the outside of a commuter train near Moscow after refusing to buy tickets in June 2008. Samutsevich later became a member of Pussy Riot.
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Activists Yekaterina Samutsevich (left), Oleg Vorotnikov (center), and Natalia Sokol travel on the outside of a commuter train near Moscow after refusing to buy tickets in June 2008. Samutsevich later became a member of Pussy Riot.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (bottom right) and fellow activists celebrate a wake for conceptual artist Dmitry Prigov in a Moscow metro carriage in August 2007. Tolokonnikova later became a member of Pussy Riot.
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Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (bottom right) and fellow activists celebrate a wake for conceptual artist Dmitry Prigov in a Moscow metro carriage in August 2007. Tolokonnikova later became a member of Pussy Riot.

Political activists Oleg Vorotnikov (left), Pyotr Verzilov (center), and his wife, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, fetch water while living together in a car shed in Moscow in July 2008.
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Political activists Oleg Vorotnikov (left), Pyotr Verzilov (center), and his wife, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, fetch water while living together in a car shed in Moscow in July 2008.

Political activist Pyotr Verzilov (right) supervises the mock execution of a migrant worker and a gay man in a Moscow megastore in September 2008. Verzilov is the husband of Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.
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Political activist Pyotr Verzilov (right) supervises the mock execution of a migrant worker and a gay man in a Moscow megastore in September 2008. Verzilov is the husband of Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

Political activist Pyotr Verzilov, the husband of Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, reads a book about anarchism by U.S. author Bob Black in Moscow in January 2009.
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Political activist Pyotr Verzilov, the husband of Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, reads a book about anarchism by U.S. author Bob Black in Moscow in January 2009.

Police remove Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (left), Oleg Vorotnikov (bottom right), and other activists of the art group Voina from the court after they disrupted a hearing against the director of the Sakharov Center in Moscow in May 2009.
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Police remove Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (left), Oleg Vorotnikov (bottom right), and other activists of the art group Voina from the court after they disrupted a hearing against the director of the Sakharov Center in Moscow in May 2009.

Pyotr Verzilov (left) and his wife, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, attend the wedding anniversary of a fellow activist at an artist's studio in Moscow in January 2008.
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Pyotr Verzilov (left) and his wife, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, attend the wedding anniversary of a fellow activist at an artist's studio in Moscow in January 2008.

Activists Pyotr Verzilov (right) and his wife, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, prepare a migrant worker for a mock execution at a Moscow megastore in September 2008.
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Activists Pyotr Verzilov (right) and his wife, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, prepare a migrant worker for a mock execution at a Moscow megastore in September 2008.

Riot police detain a pregnant Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (center) during a dissenters' march in Moscow in March 2008.
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Riot police detain a pregnant Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (center) during a dissenters' march in Moscow in March 2008.

Political activist Natalia Sokol brushes her hair as Gera, the baby of fellow activist Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, lies on a mattress in the car shed that served as the home of the Voina activist group in Moscow in July 2008.
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Political activist Natalia Sokol brushes her hair as Gera, the baby of fellow activist Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, lies on a mattress in the car shed that served as the home of the Voina activist group in Moscow in July 2008.

Activists Yekaterina Samutsevich (right), Pyotr Verzilov (second from right), and his wife, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, attend the birth of Kasper, the first child of Oleg Vorotnikov (left) and Natalia Sokol, in a secret hideout in Moscow in June 2009.
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Activists Yekaterina Samutsevich (right), Pyotr Verzilov (second from right), and his wife, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, attend the birth of Kasper, the first child of Oleg Vorotnikov (left) and Natalia Sokol, in a secret hideout in Moscow in June 2009.

Activist Yekaterina Samutsevich reads a book as she waits for the birth of fellow Voina member Natalia Sokol's first child, Kasper, in a secret hideout in Moscow in June 2009.
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Activist Yekaterina Samutsevich reads a book as she waits for the birth of fellow Voina member Natalia Sokol's first child, Kasper, in a secret hideout in Moscow in June 2009.

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