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Pussy Riot Talks Political Freedom With Matt Lauer

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Political freedom through music, lyrics and videos. That is the drive that keeps Pussy Riot going, even if it costs them their livelihood, even if they have to suffer through beatings.

Two members of the Russian punk rock band stopped by Today this morning for an interview with Matt Lauer. The Moscow-based feminist protest group is continuing to draw attention to their belief that Russian President Vladimir Putin is a dictator and that Russian people are not free.

Three band members were arrested back in March 2012 and charged with “hooliganism” for staging a protest performance in a cathedral during Vladimir Putin’s presidential campaign. The girls were denied bail and kept in custody for four months. Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were ultimately convicted and sentenced.

Both Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova spent 22 months in jail. They were eventually released under general amnesty. Samutsevich received a suspended sentence.

The band’s plight for freedom in Russia has drawn a lot of attention from the rest of the world. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina spoke with Lauer about their struggles for freedom. Tolokonnikova said through a translator, “I really sincerely wanted Russia that would be free, this idea we heard about free Russia it only became stronger in ourselves during [these] two years that we were in jail. If our government thought that they would just break us down by jailing us, I mean, it didn’t work out at all.”

Despite the band’s run of success in the music world and their growing fame, they lead difficult lives. Lauer asked about how life has been since their release from prison. Tolokonnika responded, “If we go to the people getting jailed and we want to get in, the people of the government, they attack us and they spray us so we have head concussions and burning of the eyes. That’s what we suffer.”

Tolokonnikova and Alekhina are both set to appear at Tina Brown’s fifth annual Women in the World Summit. The group will take part in a panel discussion which will be moderated by Charlie Rose. Brown chose the band members because, “They paid a heavy price for their resistance to Putin and I think that what they’ve shown is exactly what is happening now: Putin is a thug, Putin is a bully. They were brave enough to stand up, they paid a price and they went in as students and they came out as world famous activists.”

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Pussy Riot Talks Political Freedom With Matt Lauer
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