Saturday 27 December 2014

Pussy Riot women meet fan and supporter Sinead O’Connor

Cormac McQuinn

Published 03/02/2014 | 07:43

Singer Sinead O'Connor met members of Russian Protest group Pussy Riot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova  Sinead OConnor  + Pussy Riot
Singer Sinead O'Connor met members of Russian Protest group Pussy Riot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina

MEMBERS of Russian protest band Pussy Riot have met one of their most ardent supporters, singer Sinead O'Connor, who had been vocal in campaigning for their release from jail.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina – imprisoned over a 2012 ‘punk prayer' protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin – were in town for a chat show appearance.

They met Sinead in the green room in RTE, before The Saturday Night show and one of their supporters tweeted a picture of the encounter.

Nadezhda and Maria were convicted by a Russian court on a charge of hooliganism aggravated by religious hatred.

Prosecutors had sought three-year prison terms for the Pussy Riot band members.

They carried out their protest urging Mr Putin's removal, in the country's main Christian Orthodox place of worship.

The judge said she decided on a shorter jail term because two of the women were young mothers and none had a criminal record.

A third Pussy Riot member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed when a judge suspended her sentence on appeal.

AMNESTY

Nadezhda and Maria were released in December, as part of an amnesty ordered by Mr Putin, with Maria later dismissing the move as a “PR stunt”.

They appeared on Brendan O'Connor's The Saturday Night Show to talk about their difficult experiences in prison and why they are still campaigning for change in Russia.

In 2012, Nothing Compares to You singer Sinead O'Connor had the words “Free Pussy Riot” shaved into her hair and she later wrote an open letter to President Putin pleading for their release.

She told the Sunday Independent at the time: “People don't see any way out of what's going on economically or politically – not just in Russia but all over the world.

“But artists have recognised there is a way out and it's that we begin to realise the problem is spiritual, not economical or political.”

She added: “These ladies are showing spiritual leadership in times of great crisis and that is the job of true artists.”

Supporting Pussy Riot in their religious-themed protest, the Irish singer said “that she can identify with these girls in that they are using music as a priesthood”.

“Artists are there to push the boundaries and they've made a very powerful artistic statement,” she said.

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