One Year Later, Raising Our Voices for Pussy Riot

Amnesty campaigner Jasmine Heiss

On the evening of February 20, 2013 I stood with a small, but colorful group of activists outside the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Washington, DC. Thousands of miles away in remote regions of the Russian Federation it was already February 21st and Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova and Maria “Masha” Alyokhina were hours from waking to serve another day of their two-year sentences.

But the 21st was not simply another day – it was the one-year anniversary of Nadya and Masha’s performance with feminist punk group Pussy Riot in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.
It was this performance that ultimately landed both women in remote penal colonies for daring to raise their voices in protest of in protest of Vladimir Putin’s imminent return to the Russian presidency. It was this performance that helped draw artists, activists and public officials’ focus to a Russian Federation where space for peaceful dissent and free expression are rapidly diminishing.

So, as the sky darkened in the US capitol, we stood to call for Nadya and Masha’s immediate and unconditional release and to demand that the Russian Federation respect the human right to free expression. Pussy Riot’s music blasted through the cold air and activist allies from Code Pink helped lead a re-enactment of Pussy Riot’s “punk prayer” at the gates of the Russian Embassy – a bold statement that, while the Russian authorities may have scrubbed Pussy Riot’s video from the internet, we will not let peaceful dissent be silenced.

This movement is thousands strong, but we still have work to do. Help us turn the volume up to 11 by taking action on behalf of Pussy Riot. Raise your voice with me until they hear us in Moscow – “We won’t be quiet, Set free Pussy Riot!”

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