Why Were Pussy Riot Arrested AGAIN in Russia? Jennifer Still

It wasn’t long ago that Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were released from prison after being granted amnesty by the Russian government. They had served nearly all of their 2-year sentences, a term handed down after the band was found guilty of singing an anti-Putin rock track in a Moscow cathedral.

While both Nadya and Maria have continued to be vocal against Russia’s current governmental policies, appearing on TV shows and in print interviews internationally, they returned to their home country amidst the Winter Olympics last week and were detained by police and arrested on Tuesday after apparently being suspected of an unspecified crime.

As the New York Times reports,

In a series of messages on Twitter, Ms. Tolokonnikova said that the two women had been also been detained on Sunday and Monday. On Monday, she said they were held by the Federal Security Service, known as the F.S.B.

“On the 16th we were detained for seven hours,” she wrote. “On the 17th, we spent 10 hours with the F.S.B. and today we are in a police wagon, accused of theft.”

Ms. Tolokonnikova wrote that they had come to Sochi intended to carry out a protest.

“We are in Sochi to hold a Pussy Riot action,” she wrote. “The song is called, ‘Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland.” However, she said they had not yet carried out any protest and were merely walking in Sochi when they were stopped by the authorities on Tuesday.

While in custody, the women were still allowed access to their phones, which provided them a social media outlet on which to explain more of their situation and what their protest would have entailed, had it not been interrupted:

The song they had intended to perform, she wrote, was devoted to defendants charged in connection with a May 2012 political protest that turned violent in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square, to “the corrupt Olympics”, to an environmental activist Evgeny Vitishko, who was recently sentenced to three years in prison, and to “suppression of freedom in Russia.”

After several hours of questioning, both Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were released without charge, as were three others who were detained with them. The five women exited the prison wearing masks and singing lines from the song they’d hoped to perform in Sochi earlier that day.

It’s important to understand the importance of what Pussy Riot is trying to accomplish in Russia, and their insistence on fighting for change despite Russia’s repeated resistance and the threat against their liberties. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are not afraid of punishment, not afraid of prison; instead, they seem to be more afraid of their homeland’s fate if something isn’t done to change it, and soon. These women are doing such important work, and we’re behind them all the way.

Featured image via Maria Alyokhina/Associated Press

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  1. I’m all for peaceful protests and advocating change to better society, but when you come in and desecrate a church, that’s another story. Sorry, but if they were in the Middle East and did that in a mosque, jail would be the least of their worries.

    • Just because they would face a harsher punishment in a more corrupt area doesn’t devalue the message they were sending, nor does it justify the 2 years they spent in a Siberian prison camp. What they are doing is amazing and they are crazy courageous.

    • They weren’t there to desecrate the church, they were protesting the combination of church and state in Russia. Russia has already desecrated its churches by letting the government get involved.

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