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Pussy Riot members vow no let-up in Russia human rights fight
Members of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhinafor (C) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (R) pose for photos at the inaugural Prudential Eye Awards in Singapore on January 18, 2014. The two Pussy Riot members on January 17 vowed no let-up in their campaign against human rights abuses inside Vladimir Putin's Russia, as they made their first overseas trip since being released from jail. AFP PHOTO / MOHD FYROL.

By: Stefanus Ian

SINGAPORE (AFP).- Two Pussy Riot members on Friday vowed no let-up in their campaign against human rights abuses inside Vladimir Putin's Russia, as they made their first overseas trip since being released from jail.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who were freed from prison last month, are in Singapore for an awards ceremony where they said they would keep using creative art to promote their cause.

A video of the group's controversial protest stunt inside Moscow's top church, the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, has been shortlisted for a prize at the inaugural Prudential Eye Awards, held in the city-state.

The stunt, entitled Punk Prayer and which the band described as a denunciation of political ties between Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church, led to three members being convicted on hooliganism charges.

"Right now we are mostly concentrated on human rights work which involves a huge amount of legal work," Tolokonnikova said through an interpreter at a media event Friday.

She said they will continue to use "video and other creative forms" to get their message across.

"We'll definitely continue our political activities and right now we are concentrated on a project which helps prisoners' rights because any such work in Russia is a political activity," said Tolokonnikova.

Asked what the band would do with any prize money if they win, she said: "We will use our resources... including money to put (towards) this human rights project to defend prisoners' rights."

Their video has been nominated in the digital/video category alongside works of Yang Yong Liang, a new media artist from China; Australia's Baden Pailthorpe, who uses his art as political commentaries on Western military aggression; and Melbourne-based multidisciplinary artist Daniel Crooks.

The award ceremony, sponsored by insurance giant Prudential, will take place on Saturday.

The winner of each category will receive a $20,000 prize. The overall winner receives a further $30,000 and a chance to exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery in London later this year.

A statement by the organisers on the awards described Pussy Riot as a "feminist art collective".

"Pussy Riot have been nominated in the digital/video category of the awards for their performances described as 'oppositional art' including their world notorious Punk Prayer," the statement said.

Other categories include installation, painting, photography and sculpture.

Pussy Riot's church protest came just ahead of Putin's re-election to the Kremlin in March 2012. Video footage of the stunt uploaded online was later banned in Russia.

Tolokonnikova on Friday credited the Russian government for the international attention the band has received, and sarcastically suggested that a state representative should be invited to share the award if they won.

But the duo said they would pursue their cause under their own names rather than as Pussy Riot members.

"We have to speak for ourselves," Tolokonnikova said.


© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse



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