Russia is a Penal Colony

Nadya Tolokonnikova, Masha Alekhina & Pavel Chikov (Chair: Monica Attard)

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Pussy Riot became a global symbol of dissent in Russia with their idiosyncratic blend of feminist art and activism. When they were sent to prison, they became part of the extraordinary group of Russian writers, artists, and activists who have lived and died in the Gulag. Although the Gulags became ‘corrective labour colonies’ after Stalin’s death, what Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina found were harsh physical conditions, slave labour, malnutrition and physical violence. They have since founded an NGO to defend prisoners’ rights called Zona Prava, because with almost one million people imprisoned in Russia, this is not something that can be ignored – by Russians or the West.


In Russian with translation.

Nadezhda (Nadya) Tolokonnikova and Maria (Masha) Alekhina are Russian conceptual artists and political activists. They are founding members of the art collective Pussy Riot. In August 2012, they were sentenced to two years' imprisonment following an anti-Putin performance in Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. In March 2014 Tolokonnikova and Alekhina announced the opening of Mordovia office of Zona Prava, their newly created prisoners’ rights NGO. Tolokonnikova and Alekhina are Lennon Ono Grant for Peace recipients.

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