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Freed Pussy Riot Members Plan New Human Rights Organization

December 27, 2013  |  4:03pm
Freed Pussy Riot Members Plan New Human Rights Organization

Earlier today, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina held their first press conference since being released from prison on Monday. The Pussy Riot members were arrested after a 2012 “punk prayer” performance in a Moscow cathedral, and were due to be released from their Siberian prisons this March before Russian president Vladimir Putin intervened with an amnesty clause that many saw as a PR move ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Speaking together, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina announced plans to start a Human Rights Organization called “Zone of Law” that will be dedicated to providing legal aid to prisoners who complain of violence, abuse, and harsh working conditions in the Russian penal system. They told the gathered media that their work to date has already made a dent in the 16-hour workday to which many prisoners are subjected.

As for Putin, their feelings toward him have not softened since the original protest concert two years ago, regardless of the amnesty.

“Our attitude to Putin hasn’t changed. As before, we want to do what we said in our last protest for which we were imprisoned – we want to drive him out,” said Tolokonnikova. “Our political ambitions never disappeared, and possibly they’ve even got bigger.”

The pair said they may travel around Russia to promote the new HRO, but will not be performing any concerts. Despite her attitude toward Putin, Tolokonnikova also said she wouldn’t have participated in the “punk prayer” that landed her in jail if she could re-live the moment.

“I would like to be judged by those things that I’m going to do now,” she said.

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