Freed Pussy Riot rockers reunite in Siberia

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 16:47

Moscow: Two freed members of anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot on Tuesday met in Siberia for the first time since their release, discussing plans to set up a new rights group to help Russian prisoners.

Maria Alyokhina, who had been serving her sentence at a prison colony in the central city of Nizhny Novgorod, flew into the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk to meet up with bandmate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who was released from a prison hospital.

Alyokhina, 25, and Tolokonnikova, 24, were released two months early under a Kremlin-backed amnesty after serving most of their two-year sentences for staging a protest performance against Putin in an Orthodox cathedral in Moscow in February 2012.

Tolokonnikova`s husband Pyotr Verzilov told a news agency the two women had discussed plans to create "a fully-fledged organisation to help inmates."
The two punk rockers remained defiant after their release, denouncing their amnesty as a "PR stunt" and vowing to fight injustice in Russian prisons.

"In my last penal colony I had friends who told rights activists about their conditions and I will do everything in my power so that they do not come under pressure," the curly-haired Alyokhina said in televised remarks in Krasnoyarsk. 

The young women, both of whom have small children, earlier Tuesday embraced at Krasnoyarsk airport surrounded by a crowd of journalists.
Showing she had lost none of her fighting spirit, Tolokonnikova said the chief of prison service in Mordovia, where she had served most of her sentence, should be removed from his post over what she said were numerous violations. 

"Mordovia will receive its just deserts. Get ready," she said on Twitter.

The two women are expected to hold a news conference in Moscow on Friday. 

Tolokonnikova on her release Monday showed she had no fear about wading into the most politicised of issues, calling on countries to boycott the Winter Olympic Games Russia is hosting in Sochi.

"I appeal for a boycott, I appeal for honesty," she said.

Tolokonnikova also did not rule out staging new performances in the future but said the pair had matured over the past two years and therefore are likely to express themselves in new ways.

"I am not going to stop my political activity because I feel responsible for this country in which I live and I am not going to leave it, either," she said in a radio interview on Monday.

She went on hunger strike after releasing a letter complaining that women at her Penal Colony Number 14 in Mordovia were treated like "slaves" and worked 17-hour days in a sewing workshop.

Tolokonnikova was then moved to a new prison in Siberia`s Krasnoyarsk region, where she was kept at a hospital for convicts rather than the prison itself.

She said she had played punk rock in the prison hospital.

"There in the Krasnoyarsk prison hospital was a punk rock band. It was magical. I will miss it," she said on Twitter.

Alyokhina also frequently complained about conditions in Corrective Labour Colony No 28 in the Perm region of the Urals and was then moved to the region of Nizhny Novgorod after proving "inconvenient" for prison authorities, her lawyer has said.

Their jailing turned them from little-known feminist punks who staged a handful of guerrilla performances in Moscow to the stars of a global cause celebre symbolising the repression of civil dissent under Putin.

They received support from luminaries ranging from Madonna to Yoko Ono to Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

AFP

First Published: Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 16:47

More from zeenews

 
comments powered by Disqus