Pussy Riot Members Freed from Prison and Pussy Riot

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Here’s some news out of Russia that isn’t related the Olympics: Nadia Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina, who were recently released from prison, are no longer members of Pussy Riot, and it doesn’t look like the split was 100 percent amicable. 

In an open letter in the Guardian, other anonymous members of Pussy Riot (there are many more of them than most Western media outlets assumed) explained that Nadia and Masha have started a new project focused on prison rights, while Pussy Riot remains focused on radical feminist activism—and that though the band wishes its former members well, “we cannot congratulate them in person because they refuse to have any contact with us.”

An excerpt from the letter that hints at the tensions between the women:

Now they are engaged in a new project, as institutionalised advocates of prisoners’ rights.

But such advocacy is hardly compatible with radical political statements and provocative works of art – just as gender conformity is not compatible with radical feminism.

Institutionalised advocacy can hardly afford a critique of fundamental norms and rules that underlie modern patriarchal society. Being an institutional part of society, such advocacy cannot go beyond the rules set forth by this society.


Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →