Maria Alyokhina

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Maria Alyokhina
Мария Алёхина
Re publica 2015 - Tag 1 (16762307924).jpg
Alyokhina in 2015
Born
Maria Vladimirovna Alyokhina

(1988-06-06) June 6, 1988 (age 34)
NationalityRussian
EducationInstitute of Journalism and Creative Writing
OccupationPolitical activist, student, musician
OrganizationPussy Riot
Criminal charge(s)Hooliganism motivated by religious hatred
Criminal penalty2 years imprisonment
Criminal statusReleased under amnesty on December 23, 2013

Maria Vladimirovna "Masha" Alyokhina (Russian: Мария Владимировна "Маша" Алёхина, IPA: [ɐˈlʲɵxʲɪnə]; born June 6, 1988)[1] is a Russian political activist. She is a member of the anti-Putinist[2] punk rock group Pussy Riot.

Early life[edit]

Alyokhina was born on June 6, 1988, in Moscow, Russia. Her mother works as a programmer and her father is a mathematics professor.[3] She was raised by her mother, and only met her father at age 21. During her youth she hated the Russian education system and changed schools four times,

They discourage people from thinking and asking questions, they only teach you to follow the rules and submit without explanation or, most importantly, reason... Obviously I didn’t like that. Who would?[4]

Career[edit]

Arrest and indictment[edit]

On August 17, 2012, Alyokhina was convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for a performance in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. She has been recognized as a political prisoner by the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners.[5] Amnesty International named her a prisoner of conscience due to "the severity of the response of the Russian authorities."[2]

At the time of her arrest, Alyokhina was a fourth-year student at the Institute of Journalism and Creative Writing in Moscow, where she participated in a sequence of literature workshops given by the poets Dmitry Vedenyapin and Alexey Kubrik. She is also a published poet.[6] Additionally, she has been involved in environmental activism with Greenpeace Russia, opposing development projects in the Khimki Forest, and was a volunteer at the Children's Psychiatric Hospital in Moscow. She is a vegan and reportedly collapsed from hunger during the trial, as no vegan meals were provided in detention.[7]

Alyokhina played an active role in the Pussy Riot trial, cross-examining witnesses, and aggressively questioning the charges and proceedings.[8] She said in her closing statement:[9]

For me, this trial only has the status of a "so-called" trial. And I am not afraid of you. I am not afraid of lies and fiction, of the thinly disguised fraud in the sentence of this so-called court. Because you can only take away my so-called freedom. And that is the exact kind that exists now in Russia. But nobody can take away my inner freedom.

Alyokhina was released from prison on December 23, 2013[10] under an amnesty bill passed by the Russian Duma, allowing the release of several inmates. Following her release, Alyokhina and fellow Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova announced their intention to campaign for prisoner's rights in Russia. On March 6, 2014, she was assaulted and injured at a fast food outlet by local youths in Nizhny Novgorod along with Tolokonnikova.[11]

In 2013 Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova founded a media outlet, MediaZona, which focuses on the Russian penal and judicial systems.

Sochi detention[edit]

In February 2014, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were detained in by police in the Adler district of Sochi in connection with an alleged hotel theft. They were released without charge.[12] On 19 February footage surfaced showing Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina being attacked with horsewhips by Cossacks who were patrolling Sochi during the 2014 Winter Olympics.[13]

2021 arrest[edit]

On January 23, 2021, Alyokhina was arrested in Moscow and detained for 48 hours for attending a protest in support of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.[14] She was charged with "violation of sanitary and epidemiological rules", a criminal offence during the COVID-19 pandemic.[15] On January 29, Fellow Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova spoke out on Alyokhina's situation, stating "She faces criminal charges and two years in jail for encouraging people to go to protests on social networks. This is a face of Putin’s Russia. They clearly have nothing else to do, but to put Pussy Riot in jail over and over again.” [16] On March 18 Moscow's Basmanny District Court extended Alyokhina's house arrest until June 23.[17] On June 23 Maria Alyokhina, along with fellow Pussy Riot activists Lucy Shtein and Anna Kuzminykh, were sentenced to 15 days in jail. The activists were found guilty of disobeying police officers.[18] On July 8 Alyokhina was again detained upon her release and given another 15 day prison sentence.[19] In September 2021, a Moscow court sentenced her to one year of “restrictions on freedom” (a parole-like sentence).[20]

2022 arrest[edit]

On February 7, 2022, Alyokhina was arrested again, at her home.[21] On February 27, 2022, Alyokhina was arrested one more time when she was in taxi and transported to police precinct.[22]

Flight from Russia[edit]

In April 2022, Alyokhina fled Russia after officials announced she would be sentenced to time in a penal colony, instead of remaining on house arrest. With assistance from friends, including Icelandic performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson, Alyokhina travelled through Belarus and Lithuania to reach Iceland.[23]

Personal life[edit]

She has one son named Filip, born in 2008, with Nikita Demidov.[24] In 2012 Alyokhina stated that she considers herself Christian, but is critical of the Russian Orthodox Church for the harsh response to Pussy Riot's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour performance.[25] She is currently in a relationship with fellow Pussy Riot member Lucy Shtein.[26]

Awards and honors[edit]

She was co-winner of the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought (2014).[27]

In popular culture[edit]

A documentary following the Pussy Riot court cases, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.[28]

In 2015, Alyokhina and her Pussy Riot bandmate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova appeared as themselves in Chapter 29 of House of Cards, a popular American television drama series that airs on Netflix. In the show, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova heavily criticized a fictionalized version of Vladimir Putin for corruption, while dining in the White House.[29]

In 2017 she published a memoir on her trial and time in prison, entitled "Riot Days".[30] A live performance based on the book which accompanies the text with live music and projected video has toured internationally.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yuri Andrukhovych receive the Hannah-Arendt-Prize 2014". Heinrich Boell Foundation. July 24, 2014. Archived from the original on September 17, 2018. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Russia: Release punk singers held after performance in church". Amnesty International. April 3, 2012. Archived from the original on November 22, 2018. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  3. ^ Emma S (November 30, 2017). "Masha Alyokhina: "Riot Days" | Talks at Google". YouTube. Archived from the original on July 3, 2020. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  4. ^ Max Seddon January 5, 2018 (January 5, 2018). "Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina talks prison and protest | Financial Times". Ft.com. Archived from the original on July 6, 2020. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  5. ^ "Троих предполагаемых участниц Pussy Riot признали политзаключенными" [Three of the alleged participants of Pussy Riot recognized as political prisoners]. Росбалт (in Russian). March 25, 2012. Archived from the original on September 12, 2012. Google translation. Archived February 28, 2021, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Литературная карта России: Студия: Мария Алехина". Litkarta.ru. Archived from the original on July 27, 2012. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  7. ^ Robert Mackey (August 15, 2012). "Actress Writes to Putin to Demand Vegan Meals for Jailed Punk Protesters". The Lede. The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 19, 2012. Retrieved August 22, 2012.
  8. ^ Miriam Elder (August 8, 2012). "Pussy Riot profile: Maria Alyokhina: Unofficial spokeswoman for Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina has challenged witnesses and remains defiant over the charges". The Guardian. Moscow. Archived from the original on December 24, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  9. ^ "'Так называемый процесс'". Novaya Gazeta. August 8, 2012. Archived from the original on December 15, 2012. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  10. ^ "Pussy riot member released". Npr.org. December 23, 2013. Archived from the original on December 24, 2013. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  11. ^ "2 Pussy Riots Band Members assaulted in Moscow". IANS. News.biharprabha.com. Archived from the original on March 11, 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  12. ^ "Pussy Riot Members Nadezhda 'Nadya' Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina Detained in Sochi Ahead of Protest Performance". Newsweek. Archived from the original on April 22, 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  13. ^ "Pussy Riot whipped at Sochi Games by Cossacks". Bbc.co.uk. February 19, 2014. Archived from the original on October 21, 2018. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  14. ^ Bloom, Madison (January 28, 2021). "Pussy Riot's Masha Alekhina Arrested for Attending Anti-Putin Protest". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on February 24, 2021. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  15. ^ Erizanu, Paula. "Pussy Riot's Masha Alyokhina is back in prison after supporting opposition protesters". The Calvert Journal. Archived from the original on March 1, 2022. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  16. ^ "Pussy Riot's Masha Alekhina faces jail time following anti-Putin protest". Dazed. January 30, 2021. Archived from the original on January 31, 2021. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  17. ^ "Key Navalny Supporters' House Arrests Extended into Summer". March 18, 2021. Archived from the original on March 20, 2021. Retrieved March 21, 2021.
  18. ^ "Four Pussy Riot activists, including Maria Alyokhina, sentenced to 15 days in jail". Meduza. Archived from the original on July 24, 2021. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  19. ^ "Pussy Riot activist Rita Flores jailed for 15 days". Meduza. Archived from the original on July 24, 2021. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  20. ^ "'I made my choice. Now it's your turn'". Archived from the original on September 15, 2021. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  21. ^ "BREAKING NEWS: Maria "Masha" Alekhina jailed, days before giving keynote at "Institutions and Resistance - Alliances for Art at Risk"". Artists at Risk (AR). February 8, 2022. Archived from the original on February 9, 2022. Retrieved February 9, 2022.
  22. ^ "В Москве задержали участницу Pussy Riot Марию Алехину". Meduza.io. February 27, 2022. Archived from the original on February 27, 2022. Retrieved February 27, 2022.
  23. ^ Hopkins, Valerie; Friedman, Misha (May 10, 2022). "Leader of Pussy Riot Band Escapes Russia, With Help From Friends". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 10, 2022.
  24. ^ "One Year After Pussy Riot Verdict, Children Still Coming To Grips With Mothers' Jailing". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Archived from the original on September 19, 2020. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  25. ^ "Punk rock band: three profiles in Russian protest". Reuters. August 17, 2012. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved May 8, 2020 – via www.reuters.com.
  26. ^ Blistein, Jon (February 23, 2021). "Pussy Riot Team Up With Dorian Electra, 100 Gecs' Dylan Brady for New Song 'Toxic'". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on March 1, 2021. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  27. ^ "Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yuri Andrukhovych receive the Hannah-Arendt-Prize 2014". Heinrich Böll Foundation. July 24, 2014. Archived from the original on July 27, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  28. ^ Stern, Marlow (January 26, 2013). "Sundance's Best Documentary: 'Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer'". The Daily Beast. Archived from the original on March 7, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  29. ^ "Chapter 29". House of Cards. Season 3. Episode 3. Netflix.
  30. ^ Pinkham, Sophie (October 17, 2017). "'Riot Days': A Memoir of Punk Protest and Prison Activism". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on January 8, 2019. Retrieved January 8, 2019.

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