Target: Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot
Goal: Celebrate the early release of the Pussy Riot activist singers in Russia
Two members of the Pussy Riot music group, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were recently released from prison by the Russian government two months early. A recent petition on ForceChange was demanding their release, so this news is a welcomed if bittersweet success. The release came after Russia’s President Putin signed sweeping amnesty laws to free politically motivated prisoners, as a way to send a positive message to the international community in the lead up to the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Singers Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were part of the feminist music group Pussy Riot, who perform wearing balaclavas to hide their faces. Their lyrics covers topics like feminism, LGBT rights, politics, and critiquing the policies of President Putin. The two singers were charged with hooliganism when the group performed in a Russian Orthodox Cathedral, singing lyrics critical of Putin, who at the time was the prime minister. Both singers were taken to Russia’s worst prison facilities, where human rights are constantly violated and prisoners are forced to work 17 hours a day without breaks. The conditions prompted Tolokonnikova to go on a hunger strike until conditions were improved; later she was transferred to a medical facility for treatment until she was released.
Their early release is a bittersweet success, as both the women and journalists believe that their release was a publicity stunt to improve Putin’s image before the Sochi Winter Olympics. “Two months out of the almost two years that the girls have served is not much,” Tolokonnikova’s husband, Pyotr Verzilov, told CNN. “So the effect of this amnesty for Maria and Nadezhda is not really felt.”
Sign this petition and commend these women for their bravery and celebrate their early release.
Dear Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova,
I with to celebrate your early release from prison and commend you both for your bravery. I realize that your incarceration in prison was one filled with suffering and violations of human rights. I also realize that your group is championing feminism, LGBT rights, and criticizers of your government. It saddens me greatly that your country does not fully respect your freedom of speech rights, however you both are extremely brave to stand up for your beliefs and for being willing to fight for them.
Please continue to be role models for young girls and women. Perhaps if enough support is generated for the topics your music group fights for, new laws will be made to address them. I hope the time spent with your families will be happy ones and they continue to support you in future endeavors.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Denis Bochkarev via Wikimedia