Pussy Riot rocker flees Russia to raise money for Ukraine

Pussy Riot rocker flees Russia to raise money for Ukraine

A member of dissident punk group Pussy Riot fled Russia while disguised as a food delivery worker – a daring trip to “make a statement” against the invasion of Ukraine, she said.

Maria Alyokhina – who spent almost two years in prison alongside bandmate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova after her 2012 arrest for criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s main cathedral – said on Wednesday she decided she had had enough when she was in lived in a friend’s apartment in Moscow.

Alyokhina, better known as “Masha,” recalled her escape from Russia to Lithuania in an interview with CNN, saying she had been arrested six times since last summer for her public reproaches against Putin, each time serving 15 days in jail .

“This time I just decided that my tour was planned and it’s important for me to make a stand against the war and speak as loud as possible [on] what I saw in Russia,” said Alekhina. “So I made a small change and decided to spend those 21 days in the rehearsal room instead of in jail.”

Alekhina told CNN that she and friend Lucy Shtein donned green jackets while disguised as food couriers to avoid Moscow police officers who had cordoned off their friend’s apartment.

Maria Alekhina
Maria Alyokhina disguises herself as a delivery woman to flee the country.
Twitter
Maria Vladimirovna from the punk group Pussy Riot in the photo from 2017.
Maria Vladimirovna from the punk group Pussy Riot in a photo from 2017.
AFP via Getty Images

“I think that was Lucy’s idea and she used it first,” Alekhina told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “I used it when it was my turn.”

Alyokhina, who said her international passport had been confiscated by Russian authorities, first had a friend drive her to the Russia-Belarus border before making her way to Lithuania, where she stayed in places without officially identifying herself to register.

It took her three attempts to get to Lithuania, said Alyokhina.

Maria Alekhina
Alekhina has been arrested six times since last summer for her public allegations against Putin.
KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images
Masked members of the protest band Pussy Riot leave a police station in Adler during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics February 18, 2014.
Members of Pussy Riot exit a police station in Adler during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
REUTERS/Shamil Shumatov

“The first time was [a] Nightmare, the second time was fine, they just said no,” she recalled. “The first time was terrible. The first time was like a search of me, the car I was in, two hours of conversations with horrible KGB investigators and so on.”

Russian authorities announced in April that Alekhina’s house arrest would be commuted to 21 days in a penal colony over her recent legal troubles, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. Her daring escape came 10 years after her arrest for “hooliganism” during Pussy Riot’s Putin protests at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral.

“I was glad I did it,” Alyochina told the New York Times from an apartment in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. “I still don’t fully understand what I did.”

Alekhina, 33, said she hopes to return to Russia one day, but it’s unclear if and when that will happen, she said. Alyokhina and 11 other members of Pussy Riot have set their sights on Berlin for the time being, where they will do the same Start a tour Thursday to raise money for Ukraine.

“When your heart is free, it doesn’t matter where you are,” Alekhina told the New York Times.

Alyokina tweeted on Thursday that she “left the Russian state for tea” and left behind her electronic bracelet that had tracked her movements around Moscow.

“And in life there was one more super adventure,” she wrote in a post translated from Russian.

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