The former inmates will be starting a prisoners' rights group

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Pussy Riot‘s Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have said that they will be starting a prisoners’ rights group following their release from jail.

Speaking at a press conference, the pair of activists said that they would be starting a non-governmental human rights group called Zona Prava – Justice Zone, instead of engaging in activism under the name Pussy Riot. “We are not Pussy Riot now,” Tolokonnikova said. Alyokhina added: “We can promote our cause without playing any shows. And we will never play any shows for money.”

The pair said they are hoping to work with Russian oil tycoon and critic of the Kremlin Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Zona Prava, writes Hollywood Reporter, who was also released from jail last week in the Russian prison amnesty. “Khodorkovsky is very important for us as a very strong and resilient person. We hope to be able to collaborate on an ideological level,” said Tolokonnikova.

The pair added that they will be focusing on human rights issues over political activity. “I wouldn’t rule out political plans, but in the near future we will be focused on human rights activities,” said Tolokonnikova. “Still, human rights activities in Russia are inevitably linked to politics,” said Alyokhina. They went on to state that fellow Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich – who was released from jail in October 2012 – could join their activities, with Alyokhina saying: “If she wants to help us with what we’re doing now, we will only be glad”.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were released from prison under a new amnesty law on December 23. The feminist punk collective’s members were given two-year sentences in August 2012 after their now infamous “punk prayer” protest at Moscow’s Cathedral Of Christ The Savior. They were taken to a prison camp in Berniki in the remote Ural Mountains.

It is believed that the amnesty that led to Pussy Riot’s release was announced in an effort to improve Russia’s image ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which begin in Sochi in January. It will lead to the freeing of 500,000 prisoners, including the ‘Arctic 30’ Greenpeace protesters who were arrested earlier this year when some of the activists tried to scale Russia’s first offshore oil platform.

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