Pussy Riot member says Sochi chance to push for human rights changes

Dec. 26, 2013 at 3:17 PM   |   0 comments

MOSCOW, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- A member of the protest punk band Pussy Riot, pardoned this week, says the Sochi Olympics are a "one-off" chance to spotlight Russian human rights abuses.

Urging human rights campaigners to use opportunities presented by the Winter Games, Nadia Tolokonnikova said, "you can only press this button once," Radio France Internationale reported Thursday.

"This is a one-off chance," she said.

Tolokonnikova and fellow band member Maria Alekhina were pardoned Monday by Russian President Vladimir Putin near the end of their two-month sentences for "vandalism motivated by religious hatred."

She said Russia had "decided to show humanity" because of a threat the Olympics could be boycotted.

"I think Vladimir Putin feels personally attached to the Olympic Games project," Tolokonnikova said. "It's a question of honor of masculine pride for him. So international pressure concerning the games is important to him."

Tolokonnikova said she and Alekhina will work to expose abuses in Russia's penal system.

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