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Suu Kyi has moment with Pussy Riot family

Sept. 21, 2012 at 9:39 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- The husband and daughter of a jailed Russian punk rocker paid their respects to rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi while she visited Washington.

Suu Kyi, one of the world's best-known political prisoners until her release in Myanmar in 2010, shared a moment Thursday at the Newseum with friends and family of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, which had three of its members jailed for an anti-government stunt in Moscow's main Orthodox cathedral, The Washington Post reported.

The 67-year-old Suu Kyi was in Washington to receive the Congressional Gold Medal she was awarded while under house arrest in Myanmar.

Pyotr Verzilov, husband of jailed Pussy Riot rocker Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and their 4-year-old daughter Gera, paid respects, with the daughter placing a bouquet of flowers on Suu Kyi's lap.

Friends and family of the three jailed Pussy Riot band members are in the United States in advance of an Oct. 1 appeal of the women's prison sentences of two years after they were convicted of hooliganism for storming Christ the Savior Cathedral altar and performing a "punk prayer" for ousting of President Vladimir Putin.

"I don't see why people shouldn't sing whatever it is they want to sing" unless they sang badly or said something "nasty to other people," Suu Kyi said.

When told the band's target was the government, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate commented, "I think governments don't count as people."

Suu Kyi, who was elected to the Myanmar Parliament in April, is on a 17-day visit to the United States.

The Free Pussy Riot Tour includes stops in Washington, then New York, where Yoko Ono, widow of former Beatle John Lennon, will award them the Lennon Ono Grant for Peace.

"What a mash-up. I'm just in awe," David Meyer, a University of California-Irvine sociology and political science professor who blogs about protest movements, told the Post. "This shows that Aung San Suu Kyi is a heroic figure who's willing to share the spotlight with people who are somehow like she used to be."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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