MOSCOW, February 7 (RIA Novosti) – Two Russian women who served jail time for performing an anti-Kremlin song in a Moscow cathedral are “on the other side of the barricades” from their ex-group Pussy Riot, the feminist punk collective said.
Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have abandoned radical feminist art actionism to campaign for prisoners’ rights, the group said in an online statement, available in English and Russian.
“They completely forgot about the aspirations and ideals of our group – feminism, separatist resistance, fight against authoritarianism and personality cult,” the group said on Thursday.
Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova’s change of career has produced “two brave, interesting, controversial human rights defenders,” the statement said.
But “they are no longer Pussy Riot,” which is an anonymous, feminist, leftist radical art collective, the group said.
The statement echoes several comments made by Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova since their release that they are no longer part of Pussy Riot.
Five balaclava-clad members of the group staged a brief performance blasting Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in 2012.
Three were identified by investigators and given two-year prison sentences on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, though the third member had her sentence commuted to a suspended one on appeal.
The activists were amnestied in December in what Tolokonnikova denounced as a PR stunt by Russian authorities ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics, which open Friday.
The duo is currently on an international speaking tour, and this week appeared on US show “The Colbert Report” and on stage in New York with Madonna.
Pussy Riot has been active since 2011, staging several unsanctioned outdoor performances before hitting a public nerve with the cathedral show.
The anonymous group has links to art collective Voina, known for provocative stunts such as painting a gigantic penis in 2010 on a drawbridge in St. Petersburg facing the office of the Federal Security Service, the KGB’s successor.