Pussy Riot: Backing Olympics = Backing Putin

PUSSYRIOT

One of the freed members of Pussy Riot says she and her bandmate were only freed in a public relations move by President Vladimir Putin and that anyone who attends the Winter Olypics in Russia is backing him. “Whether one likes it or not, going to the Olympics in Russia is an acceptance of the […]

One of the freed members of Pussy Riot says she and her bandmate were only freed in a public relations move by President Vladimir Putin and that anyone who attends the Winter Olypics in Russia is backing him.

“Whether one likes it or not, going to the Olympics in Russia is an acceptance of the internal political situation in Russia, an acceptance of the course taken by a person who is interested in the Olympics above all else – Vladimir Putin,” Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said, according to Reuters.

Also read: Pussy Riot Members Released Before Olympics: ‘This is a Lie’

Tolokonnikova, 24, (pictured right,) and Maria Alyokhina, 25, (left,) were released Monday, two months early from their two-year sentences for hooliganism. They were convicted after performing a “punk prayer” against Putin in Moscow’s main Russian Orthodox cathedral. The women appeared spoke at a news conference Friday.

Though Putin said the amnesty was tied to the 20th anniversary of Russia adopting its first post-Soviet constitution, Tolokonnikova said it was really an effort to clean up Putin’s image before the Olympics in Sochi.

Also read: Pussy Riot Member Goes on Hunger Strike Over Russian Jail Conditions

“The thaw has nothing to do with humanism. The authorities only did this under pressure from both Russian and Western society,” Tolokonnikova told a news conference with Alyokhina at her side, adding she feared “there could be more repression after the Olympics”.

Alyokhina said the Russian Orthodox Church played a role in the jailing. The church has said the February 2012 protest was part of an attack on the main faith in Russia.

Both musicians said they would remain in Russia and focus on improving prison conditions in Russia.

A third member of the group, Yekaterina Samutsevich, had her sentence overturned on appeal.