Pussy Riot Talks Imprisonment, Olympics, the Clash at New York Press Conference

Pussy Riot (Igor Mukhin via Wikimedia)

Pussy Riot wants you to know your rights.

The Russian punk band's first post-liberation trip to the United States is bringing out pop and rock royalty. Madonna will announce the group onstage at Amnesty International’s Bringing Human Rights Home concert at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn tomorrow night (Feb. 5) that’s also bringing out the Flaming Lips, Yoko Ono, Bob Geldof, Lauryn Hill, the Fray and Imagine Dragons.

Meanwhile, Kim Gordon is cohosting a small benefit for the Voice Project with the band Thursday night (Feb. 6) in New York. But within minutes of landing at John F. Kennedy Airport, two of three recently freed members of Pussy Riot -- Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova and Maria “Masha” Alyokhina -- had another band on their mind.

“It’s hard for us not to perform when we hear cool music like the Clash,” Tolokonnikova said at a press conference at the Amnesty International offices in Manhattan when asked if they intend to perform again. (No, the two will not be jamming onstage, balaclavas and all.)
 
For the record, the 11-member collective is less punk group than feminist, political art troupe. And though their performance piece “Punk Prayer,” staged at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior two years ago, turned them into a viral sensation and galvanized youth and the likes of Sting and Paul McCartney to their plight, they will not be performing while here.

After thanking supporters for their letters, which “made us want to live behind bars,” the two Pussy Riot members announced they’re starting their own human rights organization and hope to shed light on the true conditions of their native Russia.

“It’s not the Olympic Village you see on TV,” Alyokhina said. “Look beyond those buildings.”

The two also intend to tour prisons in the area. But that doesn’t mean they’re hanging up their guitars for good.

“We are never afraid to perform,” said Tolokonnikova in Russian.

“We are proud of what we did,” Alyokhina added. “We are proud it landed us in prison.”