Pussy Riot duo "pay tribute" to Russia government for award nomination

Fri Jan 17, 2014 3:27am EST
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By John O'Callaghan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Pussy Riot's nomination for an arts award in Singapore should be extended to the Russian government for giving prominence to the protest collective by jailing members over their "Punk Prayer" video, two of the women said with heavy sarcasm.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, released from prison in December just before the end of their two-year terms, drew overwhelming attention at a media event on Friday for 20 Asian artists in the running for the Prudential Eye Awards.

Pussy Riot, whose "Punk Prayer" featured members performing a profanity-laced protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin at a Moscow cathedral in 2012, is shortlisted in the digital/video category for the awards ceremony on Saturday.

"We are talking about our work with media - how to take a single thought and spread it across the world. That is what we did in cooperation with the Russian state," Tolokonnikova said.

"This award is not only for us but for the whole political system that exists in Russia today."

With Russia about to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month, the Pussy Riot case plays prominently in criticism about civil liberties, human rights and the Putin administration's treatment of dissent.

A third Pussy Riot member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed in October 2012 when a judge suspended her sentence on appeal.

"If nothing of what happened to us after that action had happened, there might have never been any nomination. And here we should pay tribute to the Russian state," Alyokhina said.   Continued...

Members of Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (R) and Maria Alyokhina arrive to meet the media during an introduction of the nominees' work for the inaugural Prudential Eye Awards in Singapore January 17, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su