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Pussy Riot disavows Nadia and Masha over newfound political differences

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 05: Maria Alyokhina (L) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot speak onstage at the Amnesty International Concert presented by the CBGB Festival at Barclays Center on February 5, 2014 in New York City.
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 05: Maria Alyokhina (L) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot speak onstage at the Amnesty International Concert presented by the CBGB Festival at Barclays Center on February 5, 2014 in New York City.
Photo by Theo Wargo

Formerly imprisoned Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina performed at Amnesty International's concert for human rights Wednesday in Brooklyn. They were released from their penal colonies in December, before their sentences were complete, in preparations for cleaning up Russia's image for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. We can thank them for making serious newscasters all over television and radio say the words 'Pussy Riot' regularly and with a straight face.

Masha and Nadia have been on an international tour promoting political freedom since their release. At a press conference before Wednesday's show they encouraged activism. Be it through active participation or simply by boycotting the Sochi Winter Olympics.

"Anybody can be Pussy Riot," they said. "You just have to put on a mask and stage an act of protest."

The concert featured a wide range of well-known groups, including Blondie, Cake, and the Flaming Lips. Madonna introduced the duo.

"I’d like to thank Pussy Riot for making the word 'pussy' a sayable word in my household," Madonna introduced them, referencing how much of a household name they have made the band.

It seems that the rest of the original band doesn't want this sort of name recognition, though. They feel as if Nadia and Masha are no longer representing what they started out as a group to promote.

"We are very pleased [for the] release [of] Masha and Nadia. We are proud of their resistance against harsh trials that fell to their lot, their determination by all means continue to struggle started during their stay in the colonies. Unfortunately for us, they are so carried away with the problems in Russian prisons that completely forgot about the aspirations and ideals of our group: feminism, separatist resistance struggle against authoritarianism and the cult of personality, because they actually got their unjust punishment. Already it is no secret that Masha and Nadia out of the group and no longer will engage actionism. Now they are engaged in a new project. Now they protect the rights of prisoners."

They released an open letter on the band's LiveJournal page disavowing Nadia and Masha, but wishing them luck in their new venture. The quotes are taken from Google Translate's translation, as the page is written in Russian.

They go on to vow that Pussy Riot will never have a legal appearance. They will never have an advertised appearance or sell tickets. Every show they do will be unexpected. Every member of the band will always be anonymous.

"We are anonymous because we are opposed to the cult of personality, against the emerging hierarchy including on the grounds of external data, age or other social characteristics. We cover [our] faces because we are against the use of a woman's face as a brand for the promotion of any goods or services. [...] Remember, we are no longer Nadia and Mary - they are no longer Pussy Riot."