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Pussy Riot says Nadia and Masha no longer in Pussy Riot, upset about Amnesty concert

Pussy Riot

Before last night’s (2/5) Amnesty International Human Rights Concert at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, where Masha Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot appeared (introduced by Madonna), still-anonymous members of Pussy Riot sent out an open letter stating that neither Nadya nor Masha are still members of Pussy Riot anymore. The letter in English (via Pitchfork) reads:

We are very pleased with Masha’s and Nadya’s release. We are proud of their resistance against harsh trials that fell to their lot, and their determination by all means to continue the struggle that they had started during their stay in the colonies.

Unfortunately for us, they are being so carried away with the problems in Russian prisons, that they completely forgot about the aspirations and ideals of our group–feminism, separatist resistance, fight against authoritarianism and personality cult, all of which, as a matter of fact, was the cause for their unjust punishment.

Moreover, instead of the names of Nadya and Masha, the poster of the [Amnesty International] event showed a man in a balaclava with electric guitar, under the name of Pussy Riot, while the organizers smartly called for people to buy expensive tickets. All this is an extreme contradiction to the very principles of Pussy Riot collective: We are all-female separatist collective–no man can represent us either on a poster or in reality. We belong to leftist anti-capitalist ideology–we charge no fees for viewing our art-work, all our videos are distributed freely on the web, the spectators to our performances are always spontaneous passers by, and we never sell tickets to our ‘shows’.

Our performances are always ‘illegal’, staged only in unpredictable locations and public places not designed for traditional entertainment. The distribution of our clips is always through free and unrestricted media channels. We are anonymous, because we act against any personality cult, against hierarchies implied by appearance, age and other visible social attributes. We cover our heads, because we oppose the very idea of using female face as a trademark for promoting any sort of goods or services.

The mixing of the rebel feminist punk image with the image of institutionalised defenders of prisoners’ rights, is harmful for us as collective, as well as it is harmful for the new role that Nadya and Masha have taken on.

The New York Times notes that backstage at Barclays Center last night, Nadya and Masha had no comment on the letter, but they have said things like “We are no longer Pussy Riot” in other interviews, deciding to focus their efforts on Russian prison reform. That said, you’d never know they thought that based on their (brave) Colbert Report appearance, and their statement in the press conference before the Amnesty show that “anybody can be a member of Pussy Riot”. “Pussy Riot” or not, we continue to applaud what they are doing.

Nadya and Masha are still in NYC and will be at tonight’s Voice Project reception/fundraiser at The Spotted Pig, which Kim Gordon, Sean Ono Lennon, Questlove and others are hosting.

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