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Pussy Riot 'pays tribute' to Moscow for award nomination in Singapore

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 January, 2014, 11:04pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 January, 2014, 11:04pm
 

Pussy Riot's nomination for an arts award in Singapore should be extended to the Russian government for giving prominence to the protest collective by jailing members over their "Punk Prayer" video, two of its members said with heavy sarcasm.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, released from prison in December just before the end of their two-year terms, drew attention at a media event yesterday for 20 Asian artists in the running for the Prudential Eye Awards.

Pussy Riot, whose "Punk Prayer" featured members performing a profanity-laced protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin at a Moscow cathedral in 2012, is shortlisted in the digital-video category. The awards ceremony takes place today.

"We are talking about our work with media, how to take a single thought and spread it across the world. That is what we did in co-operation with the Russian state," Tolokonnikova said.

"This award is not only for us but for the whole political system that exists in Russia today."

With Russia about to host the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month, the Pussy Riot case plays prominently in criticism about civil liberties, human rights and the Putin administration's treatment of dissent.

A third Pussy Riot member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed in October 2012, when a judge suspended her sentence on appeal.

"If nothing of what happened to us after that action had happened, there might have never been any nomination. And here we should pay tribute to the Russian state," Alyokhina said.

Chiming in, Tolokonnikova said: "Maybe some Russian official should have been invited here to share the nomination with us."

Tolokonnikova's husband, Russian-Canadian artist Pyotr Verzilov, said the Pussy Riot members were aware of sensitivities in Singapore, where public protests were subject to restrictions. The country is given low rankings for press freedom by media watchdogs.

Reuters, Agence France-Presse

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