Pussy Riot Tells Brooklyn Putin's Gotta Go



467074863Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty.
When Fashion Week's in town, it's hard to focus on much else. But, a historic event took place last night in Brooklyn — and it was anything but style focused. As part of their first-ever visit to the U.S., Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova made a moving speech during the Amnesty International Bring Human Rights Home concert at the Barclays Center. The women have been free from prison for just two months, and they haven't wasted any time picking up where they left off.

Madonna introduced the pair and was full of praise: "They must be commended for their courage and their fearlessness." It should come as no surprise that Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova's speech was critical of Putin's leadership in Russia. The women spoke only in Russian and their words were translated for the captivated crowd, but the message was universal: "We have to remember that freedom is not a given. It's something we have to fight for and stand for every day." They asked the audience to support the group of anti-Putin protesters who were jailed on May 6, 2012 and will be sentenced on February 21.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova told reporters earlier this week that they'll be starting their own human rights group called Zona Prava. And, though performing music will no longer be their primary focus, they'll continue to participate in political events, like Amnesty International's concert.

Their mission isn't extreme, but it is bold. They "demand a Russia that is free," and argue that freedom can only be achieved if and when Putin is removed from office. Before leaving the stage, the women took turns reading the closing remarks from the speech that got them arrested in the first place. And, they left the crowd with an important reminder: "Anyone can be Pussy Riot. All you have to do is put on a mask and stage a protest." (Mashable)