News

Pussy Riot Slam Prison Release As “PR Stunt”

Two imprisoned members of Russian art-punk protest group Pussy Riot were released from prison yesterday, promising to use their newly granted freedom to fight for human rights, with one member labelling the recent amnesty bill which secured the activists’ freedom, a Putin-led “PR stunt.”

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, whose family reported as missing last month following a transfer between prisons in Mordovia and Siberia, was released hours after fellow band member Maria Alyokhina. The two, along with Yekaterina Samutsevich, were convicted of “hooliganism” in 2012.

After being freed from her prison in the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk, Tolokonnikova reportedly shouted “Russia without Putin!” As ABC News reports, the activist told the press that that she supports a boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics, set to take place in Sochi in February.

Tolokonnikova reiterated her criticism of the Russian penal system, which the 24-year-old began in prison with a highly publicised hunger strike and an open letter to the press describing conditions as “slave-like.” Comparing the country to a prison, she said, “Russia is built on the model of a penal colony and that is why it is so important to change the penal colonies today to change Russia.”

Tolokonnikova was also skeptical about the motivations behind the amnesty, telling BuzzFeed, “There is no new Putin. This is a small step back, but a small one. There are still plenty of people in the jails,” calling the amnesty a “calculated move” by the controversial Russian President.

Since the announcement of the amnesty — Russia’s biggest in 20 years, which will see the release of almost 2,000 prisoners — many have criticised what they view as the cynical motive of distracting the international public from the country’s human rights record ahead of the Sochi Olympics.

“I don’t think it’s an amnesty, it’s a profanation. I don’t think the amnesty is a humanitarian act, I think it’s a PR stunt. If I had a choice to refuse [the amnesty], I would,” Alyokhina told Russian Internet and TV channel Dozhd via telephone, as reported by TVNZ.

Tolokonnikova said she will now work to improve prisoners’ rights in Russia, saying, “I don’t consider this time wasted… I gained unique experience which will make it easier to really engage in human rights work… I became older, I saw the state from within, I saw this totalitarian machine as it is.”

Alyokhina echoed her partner’s sentiments. “I think we will unite our efforts in our human rights activity… the methods which we will use will remain the same,” she said, “We will try to sing our the song to the end.” She added: “I’m not afraid of anything anymore – believe me.”

(Via ABC News)

Latest on Music Feeds

Load more