Pussy Riot To Form Prisoners' Rights Organization
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 12.27.2013
Now that they're out of jail...
The freed members of Pussy Riot have announced that they are forming a prisoner's rights organization. Billboard reports that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were at a news conference in Moscow today, their first since being freed from prison under a new amnesty bill. The two were serving two-year sentences for their parts in the anti-Vladimir Putin "punk prayer" demonstration in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012.
Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina said that they are forming a non-governmental human rights organization called "Zona Prava" ("Justice Zone"), which will focus on protecting prisoners' rights. They are also collaborating with former tycoon-turned-prisoner Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was also released last week. The band stressed that they will neither be capitalizing on the Pussy Riot brand or use it in the future, and that they are not taking any money from Khodorkovsky.
Tolokonnikova said, "We won't ask anyone for financial assistance. Khodorkovsky is very important for us as a very strong and resilient person. We hope to be able to collaborate on an ideological level."
She added, "We feel a huge responsibility for people who are in prisons."
Zona Prava will be financed via crowd-funding, with opposition activist and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny among those who will be on the board in charge of controlling the organization's finances.
Tolokonnikova said of the Pussy Riot name, "We are not Pussy Riot now," while Alyokhina added, "We can promote our cause without playing any shows. And we will never play any shows for money."
The two said that they will be working on art programs for inmates and have no immediate political plans, with Tolokonnikova noting, "I wouldn't rule out political plans, but in the near future we will be focused on human rights activities."
As for the third jailed member of the group, Yekaterina Samutsevich, the two said she is welcome to join them. Samutsevich was released on probation in October 2012.
They also noted that they have no intention of leaving Russia and called on other countries to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Tolokonnikova said, "Attending the Olympics is the endorsement of Russia's internal policies."