Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will make their
first trip to the United States since they were granted amnesty
in December by Russian President Vladimir Putin, two months
before they were set to be released.
Alyokhina, 25, and Tolokonnikova, 24, were convicted in 2012 of
hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after they stormed the
altar of Moscow's biggest cathedral and beseeched the Virgin
Mary to rid Russia of Putin.
"A month ago we were freed from Russian prison camps," Alyokhina
and Tolokonnikova said in a joint statement. "We will never
forget what it's like to be in prison after a political
conviction. We have vowed to continue helping those who remain
behind bars and we hope to see you all at the Amnesty
International concert on February 5th in Brooklyn!"
It is not clear whether Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova will perform
at the "Bringing Human Rights Home" concert featuring rock
groups The Flaming Lips, Imagine Dragons and R&B singer Lauryn
Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova derided their early release last
year as a propaganda stunt by Putin to improve Russia's image
before it hosts the Winter Olympics in February.
Putin, who denies jailing people for political reasons, has said
the amnesty would show that the Russian state is humane.
Tolokonnikova staged a hunger strike last year to draw attention
to stark conditions and long hours of mandatory labor in the
jail where she was held.
A third Pussy Riot member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed
when a judge suspended her sentence on appeal.
(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; editing
by Mary Milliken and Andrew Hay)
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