Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina on Putin’s crimes and her years of resistance

She is no longer in Iceland, and speaks to me, as her fellow Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonnikova did earlier this year, from an unnamed location. But she resists any phrases that dramatise her situation – persecution, flight, exile, escape – preferring a hard-boiled statement of the facts. “I was arrested, many times – and not just arrests. I was under a travel ban, I had a red flag on the border for two years, I had to find a way to tour. The heads of the political Moscow police were quite often trying to go to my house, speak with my mother, catch me there.” She describes the trigger event for her departure: the news that she was about to be moved from house arrest to a prison.

So she hasn’t fled; she has found a way to go on tour, living in a van, raising money any which way, through spoken word, performance art, merchandise, NFTs. “I understand there was a big noise about my so-called escape, but I don’t have any plans for emigration. I just want to help Ukraine and that’s it.” She made €10,000 selling T-shirts and sent the money to a Ukrainian children’s hospital. Alyokhina and her girlfriend, Lucy Shtein, also from Pussy Riot, have made an NFT using the ankle tags from their house arrest, melted and turned into digital art: “They’re our trophies from the fight with the Russian government. We believe those fetters will be gone.”

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