Russian punk band tell New York ahead of Sochi they will perform again

Tue Feb 4, 2014 7:19pm EST
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By Edith Honan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot may have remade themselves as global human rights advocates since their imprisonment for hooliganism, but on Tuesday they vowed to return to the stage as performers.

"It's absolutely impossible to take this out of us," Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24 told a New York news conference ahead of Pussy Riot's appearance at an Amnesty International concert on Wednesday, a day before the Winter Olympics open in Sochi, Russia.

Tolokonnikova and her bandmate, Maria Alyokhina, 25, will be introduced at the Amnesty concert by pop star Madonna, and will speak but are not expected to perform at the event.

The pair were convicted in 2012 of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after storming Moscow's biggest Orthodox cathedral and beseeching the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of President Vladimir Putin.

A third member of the group, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed when a judge suspended her sentence on appeal.

Their case sparked a global outcry. After nearly two years behind bars, Putin granted them amnesty in December.

"It's a wonderful example of how the civil society can be put to work," Tolokonnikova said of the campaign on their behalf.

The women described a grim situation in Russia, in which protesters are thrown in jail and trials are mired by politics.   Continued...

Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (R) and Maria Alyokhina hold a news conference in New York February 4, 2014. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton