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Two Pussy Riot rockers flee Russia to avoid prosecution

August 26, 2012 |  7:38 am
Two Pussy Riot rockers flee Russia
MOSCOW -- Two Pussy Riot punk rockers fled Russia to avoid prosecution for a controversial “punk prayer” the group performed in February at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Church.

“In connection with the search, our two participants have successfully left the country! They are recruiting foreign feminists for new actions!” said a statement posted on the group’s Twitter account Sunday.

Pussy Riot rockers Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Mariya Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were sentenced last week to two years in prison for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

The trial, viewed by many outside Russia to be a political show trial, sparked international outrage and attracted wide support of musicians including Sting, Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina, Samutsevich and the two women who fled, stormed Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in bright dresses and balaclavas on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s victory in the presidential election and sang an anti-Putin song at the altar.

The performance angered the Russian Orthodox Church and many Orthodox Russians.

Police announced earlier this week that they are searching for the two unidentified band members.

The band tweeted Sunday that at least 12 band members remain in Russia.

“We hurry to disappoint the Kremlin rats: 2 women left the country because of danger, but in Russia there are at least 12 Pussy Riot members left,” the group posted on Twitter.

Pussy Riot is a feminist opposition punk group collective consisting of at least 12 women ages 20 to 30.

A Pussy Riot member called Balaklava said in July that the government's reaction to the "punk prayer" is "inadequate."

Another member nicknamed Squirrel said she feels paranoid after the jailing of Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich.

“The situation is horrible about girls and it's really scary. I'm trying to think that nobody is watching me or listening me,” Squirrel said.

“To stop doing this means to be afraid of something. We just don't want to give up,” a band member named Sparrow said. “Of course sometimes we can have some fears, but it's better not to be afraid.”

“It’s really scary to be afraid,” Squirrel said.

Squirrel, Sparrow and Balaklava, interviewed in July while wearing balaclavas, probably were not involved in the February performance and have not fled Russia, said Tolokonnikova’s husband, Pyotr Verzilov, who is close to the band.

ALSO:

Opinion: Pussy Riot and a strange convergence

Vivian Girls, Kremlin Head play L.A. benefit for Pussy Riot

Pussy Riot releases single, gets support of U.S. State Department

-- Khristina Narizhnaya

Photo: Three members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot, from left, Mariya Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. Credit: Mikhail Metzel / Associated Press
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