"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,
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.
"A lot of people are unjustifiably in jail right now, and in the
near future, we expect this number to rise," Tolokonnikova said.
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Alyokhina joined Amnesty's executive director Steven Hawkins at
the news conference and spoke through Tolokonnikova's husband,
Peter Verzilov, who acted as an interpreter.
While in the United States, the women plan to visit
prisons and meet with related non-governmental organizations to gain
insights into how the Russian prison system might be improved.
The women made a similar trip to Holland, but said they could not
imagine that Russian prisons would ever resemble Dutch facilities,
which Tolokonnikova described as "a universe apart."
The "Bringing Human Rights Home" concert will also feature American
alternative rock group Imagine Dragons, the Flaming Lips and R&B
singer Lauryn Hill, who will perform at the Barclays Center in
The event will resume a global concert series that Nobel Peace
Prize-winning Amnesty International began 25 years asgo, which has
featured such rock greats as U2, Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Lou
(Reporting by Edith Honan; editing by G
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