Members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot Maria Alekhina, left, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova
(Photo: Alexander Roslyakov, AP)
USA Today -- In their first press conference since being released from prison Dec. 23, two members of the group Pussy Riot said Friday that they planned to form a human rights organization focusing on the protection of prisoners.
Billboard reports that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova andMaria Alyokhina told reporters in Moscow that they will call the group "Zona Prava" -- which translates to "justice zone" -- and that they hope to collaborate with former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was also freed last week after serving a ten-year jail term.
But Tolokonnikova added, "We won't ask anyone for financial assistance," noting that they hoped to work with Khodorkovsky "on an ideological level." The group would be financed by crowd-funding.
The musicians, who were serving two-year sentences for a "punk prayer" opposing Putin, delivered in 2012, don't plan to play any shows to raise money. "We are not Pussy Riot now," Tolokonnikova said, though Alyokhina added that if the band's third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, who was released on probation in October 2012, is welcome to join them in their efforts.
"If she wants to help us with what we are doing now, we will only be glad," said Alyokhina.
She and Tolokonnikova also repeated their call for Western counties to boycott the Olympics. "Human rights activities in Russia are inevitably linked to politics," Alyokhina noted.
But the musicians said they don't have any firm political plans right now. "I wouldn't rule out political plans, but in the near future we will be focused on human rights activities," said Tolokonnikova.
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