NEW YORK, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- It's hard to define Pussy Riot's actual participants, because the punk-protest collective has a famously fluctuating membership.
But several of the movement's more prominent leaders have disowned Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, the two activists who were freed from Russian prison and embarked on a worldwide campaign for prisoner rights.
Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, who were jailed for singing a "punk prayer" against Vladimir Putin in a Moscow church in 2012, are now stateside, and spoke passionately against the Russian president at an Amnesty International concert in Brooklyn on Wednesday.
In a post to the group's blog, however, six Pussy Riot members said that Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina "no longer represent Pussy Riot."
“We are proud of their resistance against the harsh trials that befell them, and their determination by all means to continue the struggle they had started during their time in the colonies," they wrote (via the LA Times). “Unfortunately for us, they became so carried away with the problems in Russian prisons that they completely forgot about the aspirations and ideals of our group -- feminism, separatist resistance, the fight against authoritarianism and personality cults, all of which caused their unjust punishment."
The group members criticized Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina for participating in an event that participants had to buy tickets to see.
"We never accept money for our performances," the group said. "We only stage illegal performances in unexpected public places."
“Yes, we have lost two friends, two ideological teammates, but the world has acquired two brave human rights defenders -- fighters for the rights of Russian prisoners,” they continued. “Unfortunately we cannot congratulate them in person because they refuse to have any contact with us. But we appreciate their choice and sincerely wish them well in their new career."
Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, known as Masha and Nadia, made a memorable appearance on the Colbert Report this week. Though speaking to the mock-conservative comedian through a translator, both women returned his snark with wit and intelligence that delighted the audience and seemed to impress Colbert.
“We have different ideas about a bright future, and we don’t want a shirtless man on a horse leading us into that bright future,” they said of Putin.
[LA Times, Slate]