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Pussy Riot Activist Maria Alyokhina: “I Was Always Free, Because I Felt Free”

Written by Greg Moskovitch on December 27, 2013

Recently amnestied 25-year-old member of Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina has told reporters that she always “felt free” during her imprisonment in a Russian penal colony. Alyokhina insisted that Pussy Riot would go on, though wouldn’t go into specifics without the other members of the group present.

“You know, I was always free, because I felt free,” Alyokhina, who was released from prison earlier this week, told Rolling Stone. “It’s very important to be free inside. The most important thing is to feel free. You have the right to choose. Becoming conscious of that fact delivers a person.”

During the interview, Alyokhina echoed the sentiments she expressed upon release, namely that the amnesty was merely a Putin-orchestrated “PR stunt” done to gloss over Russia’s human rights record ahead of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi. Said the activist:

“[I was released] simply because of Sochi. They wanted to make themselves more attractive before the Olympic games. That’s why they decided to do the amnesty. But the amnesty is not general — it’s a lie. I’m the only one who’s been released [from camp] and that’s the problem.”

“They won’t let anyone else out,” added Alyokhina. “Formally, it’s a general amnesty, but it’s a lie.” She also reiterated that she would have wanted to reject the amnesty, saying, “I wanted to, but unfortunately it wasn’t in my power. If I had had any possibility of doing so, I definitely would have refused this amnesty. I don’t need it. I’m not guilty, I’m not a criminal, I don’t consider it mercy.”

Regarding the future of Pussy Riot she said, “I think it’s best if we give more details when we appear together so there is no dissonance …Whatever we do will definitely be connected with that sort of action that we found effective …I would say that if a person is connected with art, it’s forever.”

Alyokhina said that the group’s upcoming project would be a “human rights defense organization, but of a new kind.” She said that the group plan on using “the brightness and illumination of media resources” to highlight the problems of the Russian penal system and “perhaps more generally.”

Alyokhina explained that her time in prison was spent doing “human rights [work],” such as “explaining to the women how they can solve their complaints themselves.” Describing the camps she said prisoners work 12-hour days and receive “between one and 10 euros for a month’s work.”

(Via Rolling Stone)

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