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Pussy Riot begins tour for Ukraine after escape from Berlin


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BERLIN — Russian feminist arts collective and punk rock band Pussy Riot took to the stage with an antiwar message on Thursday, performing for the primary time in three years, after their lead singer escaped Russia by disguising herself as a meals courier to evade police.

Talking in Berlin at first of a deliberate 19-show European tour to boost cash for victims of the battle in Ukraine, Maria Alyokhina, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, described her choice to go away Russia as “spontaneous.”

It got here after Russian authorities introduced she must serve a 21-day sentence in a penal colony. Alyokhina has been arrested six occasions over the previous yr on expenses associated to her political activism, with Putin increasing an already stifling crackdown on political dissent since his invasion of Ukraine.

Greater than 4,500 antiwar protesters had been arrested throughout a single day in March, in keeping with one rights group. In the meantime, even describing the battle as a battle could be punishable with jail time.

“We need to communicate the reality,” Alyokhina mentioned. “These Russians who’re conscious are already doing all they’ll and are being imprisoned.”

Identified for its provocative guerrilla performances, Pussy Riot gained notoriety in February 2012, with the efficiency of a “punk prayer” essential of Putin at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Alyokhina and one other member of the collective had been handed two-year jail sentences.

Their new “antiwar” present, which mixes which mixes music, theater and video shows, additionally incorporates the names of imprisoned and persecuted Russian dissidents.

To allow the tour, Alyokhina “went via varied adventures,” the collective mentioned on Instagram.

Alyokhina recounted these adventures to the New York Occasions earlier this week, describing how she donned a meals supply uniform to idiot law enforcement officials monitoring the house the place she was staying and left her cellphone behind to keep away from being tracked. She then took a circuitous route in a foreign country by way of Belarus and Lithuania.

Her girlfriend, Lucy Shtein, revealed the same escape. “Straightforward solution to get previous cops in your driveway,” she posted on Instagram, alongside {a photograph} of herself in a inexperienced meals supply outfit.

Hundreds of liberal Russians have fled Putin’s wartime crackdown.

Olga Borisova, one other member of the collective acting on Thursday, mentioned she’d left the nation when the battle began. Diana Burkot mentioned she’d packed her baggage two months in the past, however that each one members of the group wished to return.

When requested what message the group wished to ship Putin at their live performance, Burkot mentioned they didn’t need to ship him a message in any respect. Of their view, partaking with him is now not doable.

Borisova mentioned they hope he will probably be tried as a battle legal.

Addressing the West, all three performers emphasised that it was harmful to be silent within the face of the Russian chief’s actions. “Evil is being detached,” Aloykhina mentioned.

Borisova mentioned she thought that after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, nobody would communicate to Putin anymore. Particularly because it was a violation of worldwide regulation and “tremendous brutal.”

As a substitute, they had been shocked at how restricted the worldwide response was in 2014 and the way rapidly everybody returned to regular. “In fact, if he sees that he can try this and there’s no response, why not simply go additional and annex increasingly more territories, to begin a battle?” Borisova mentioned.

“It’s change into so absurd,” mentioned Aloykhina of the Russian authorities’s effort to advertise its invasion of Ukraine as a “particular operation” and forestall residents from understanding it as a battle. She famous that somebody shopping for ads on Instagram may in concept find yourself in jail for as much as 5 years for “sponsoring the extremists.”

Russia blocked Instagram and Fb in March after Fb quickly suspended its hate speech guidelines and allowed posts that referred to as for Putin’s dying. Subsequently, a court docket banned father or mother firm Meta as an extremist group.

Chatting with reporters forward of the live performance, Alyokhina was reluctant to dwell on particulars of how she evaded Russian authorities to go away the nation.

“I feel the main target ought to be on Ukraine now and never on me,” she mentioned, calling for nations to cease promoting Russia arms and shopping for its oil.



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