Jennifer Still
February 18, 2014 7:00 am

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,

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:

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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