This Pussy Riot Member Escaped Moscow Dressed as a Food Courier - Rolling Stone
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Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina Escaped Moscow Dressed as a Food Courier

“They are scared because they cannot control us,” the activist and dissident said of Russian leaders

Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina Escaped Moscow Dressed as a Food CourierPussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina Escaped Moscow Dressed as a Food Courier

Masha Alekhina of Pussy Riot poses for a portrait, Friday, Oct. 13, 2017, at La Mama Theater in New York.

Mark Lennihan/AP

Under the continued threat of imprisonment by Vladimir Putin’s regime for anti-government activism, Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina successfully escaped Russia last month, only able to safely flee Moscow by disguising herself as a food courier.

In an interview with The New York Times, Alyokhina, 33, detailed how she managed to leave the Russian capital despite being under house arrest. The activist had been arrested and jailed a whopping six times in the last year, primarily due to her involvement in anti-government protests, prompting her decision to flee. The food courier disguise was born out of a result of Alyokhina’s movements being tracked by Moscow police, the paper reported. After several failed attempts of crossing into Lithuania at the Belarusian border, the activist was able to procure a special travel document from an unidentified European nation with assistance from an Icelandic performance artist. “I still don’t understand completely what I’ve done,” she said.

Pussy Riot — a loosely organized feminist collective of artists and activists — first came to prominence in 2012 when five members, including Alyokhina, staged a controversial guerilla performance of the group’s anti-Putin song “Punk Prayer: Mother of God Drive Putin Away” in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Alyokhina, along with fellow Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, were arrested and convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” (The three were sentenced to two years in prison for the offense.) While the three women were incarcerated, other affiliates of Pussy Riot continued to produce and stage a slew of anti-authoritarian protests — but the collective’s inherent lack of structure, born from a need for anonymity, led to internal conflicts resulting in the dissolution of the original core group of members. Today, no one individual lays claim to the Pussy Riot moniker — although Tolokonnikova remains the most active individual to release works under the Pussy Riot banner, regularly releasing subversive electropop tracks with names like “Hatefuck” and “Sexist.”

“I don’t think Russia has a right to exist anymore,” Alyokhina told the Times. “Even before, there were questions about how it is united, by what values it is united, and where it is going. But now I don’t think that is a question anymore.”

Alyokhina’s Pussy Riot collaborator Tolokonnikova shared a similar sentiment in an interview with Rolling Stone in February. “It’s obvious that Putin is just a dangerous dictator who has to be stopped,” she said. “He’s not just dangerous for people in his country, he’s dangerous for peace globally. A lot of people have been half-joking, talking about this invasion starting the Third World War. But it’s a war in Europe. It’s not a joke. It’s full-blown war.”

Alyokhina, along with other Pussy Riot members, will embark upon a brief tour in support of Ukraine beginning May 12 in Berlin.

In This Article: Maria Alyokhina, Pussy Riot, Russia

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