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Pussy Riot Urges Congress to Crack Down on Russia

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Russian punk band Pussy Riot members Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were on Capitol Hill Tuesday lobbying for further sanctions against Russia, citing human rights violations they had witnessed first-hand under President Vladimir Putin’s administration.

In a private meeting, the two activists requested that senators on the Foreign Relations Committee crack down even harder against Russia, and that Congress add 16 additional names to the list of Russian human rights violators who currently face sanctions, including the Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

Speaking through a translator, Tolokonnikova commented, “These sanctions allow a huge number of people to talk about the human rights violations as a result.” Tolokonnikova added, “Putin is not leading Russia to stability, but to complete instability and chaos. Silence is the most dangerous thing for a political prisoner.”

Alekhina and Tolokonnikova were found guilty of hooliganism with religious undertones of hatred after a live set at Moscow’s main cathedral in March, 2012, and were sentenced to two years in prison. A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on a suspended sentence just months after the hooliganism conviction.

Here is a clip of the antics that garnered Pussy Riot their charges of hooliganism, after engaging in their “punk prayer”:

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut was in attendance at the Tuesday meeting, and commented that further U.S. sanctions against Russia would foster an economic blow that would create a “domino effect,” which would in turn encourage Russians to stand up to human rights offenders. “People will start to care much more about the fact the they, like these two brave women standing next to us, have lost their ability to grieve their government,” Murphy said.

Tolokonnikova and Alekhina were freed from prison due to an amnesty legislation which some watchdog groups viewed as a Kremlin public relations stunt in time for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. During an appearance on NBC’s Today Show, Matt Lauer asked the activists if they thought Vladimir Putin had ordered their release to display his “softer side” to the world.

Tolokonnikova replied, “When we got released, we didn’t have any illusions at all that Putin’s regime became more liberal.”

A wearisome looking Pussy Riot also attended a few parties associated with the White House Correspondents’ Dinner over the weekend:

Image via YouTube

Pussy Riot Urges Congress to Crack Down on Russia
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