February 11, 2014 9:36

Released Pussy Riot members respond to criticism from bandmates

Masha Alyokhina and Nadia Tolokonnikova speak out following last week's anonymous open letter

Released Pussy Riot members respond to criticism from bandmates

Photo: PA

Released Pussy Riot members Masha Alyokhina and Nadia Tolokonnikova have disputed claims that they have forgotten the group's "ideals".

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were criticised in an anonymous open letter published online last week. The letter saw the remaining members of the activist group discuss the duo's departure to focus on prison reform and human rights abuse. Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova started the non-governmental human rights group Zona Prava (Justice Zone) after being released from prison last year (December).

The statement also suggested that Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova have ignored their attempts to communicate and expressed frustration with the way the pair were presented at a recent Amnesty International concert in New York and the way they are still presented as members of Pussy Riot.

Responding to the letter, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova spoke to New York Times and told an interviewer that the letter "doesn't follow the ideology of Pussy Riot". Tolokonnikova also denied claims she is no longer in contact with other members of the group. "The people we performed with in Moscow, we’re still in contact with," she said, adding that Pussy Riot is not, as the letter stated, an "all-female separatist collective". "Pussy Riot can be anyone, and no one can excluded from Pussy Riot," states Tolokonnikova. "Pussy Riot can only grow."

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova have toured prisons, including Rikers Island, while in New York and were introduced onstage by Madonna at last week's Amnesty International concert. They spoke forcefully through their translator against authoritarian political imprisonment and also called for Russia to oust President Vladmir Putin.

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