De Blasio meets with former Pussy Riot members

de blasio pussy riot
Mayor Bill de Blasio, far left, and Chirlane McCray, far right, sit down with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria “Masha” Alyokhina, former members of Russian protest band Pussy Riot.
Credit: Rob Bennett/Mayor’s Office

Mayor Bill de Blasio gabbed behind closed doors with former members of feminist Russian protest band Pussy Riot for almost an hour on Friday evening.

De Blasio and wife Chirlane McCray met with Maria “Masha” Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who closing their visit to New York City after performing at an Amnesty International show in Brooklyn.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were two of three Pussy Riot members arrested in 2012 after staging a protest show inside a Russian Church.

Staunch critics of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, the pair was freed in December after 21 months in prison. The women embarked on the tour to examine prison systems outside their native country as a means to bring prison reform to Russia. They also performed at Wednesday night’s “Bringing Human Rights Home” concert at Brooklyn Barclay’s Center, a move that got Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova booted from the band.

Ahead of the sit down, de Blasio described himself as a “tremendous admirer” of Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova for speaking out against oppression. The mayor also promised to facilitate any of the women’s future visits to New York City.

“I saw the interviews when they came out of prison and there was an incredibly admirable defiance that they basically made clear that they would speak out even if it meant being imprisoned again,” de Blasio said on Friday, calling their work “inspirational.”

De Blasio celebrated his own freedom of speech before meeting the Russian duo.

“Can I say Pussy Riot? Yes I can,” he said.

Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria


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