Maria Alyokhina

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Maria Alyokhina
Maria Alyokhina 2014 (cropped).jpg
Alyokhina in 2014
Native name Мари́я Влади́мировна Алёхина
Born Maria Vladimirovna Alyokhina
(1988-06-06) June 6, 1988 (age 30)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Nationality Russian
Education Institute of Journalism and Creative Writing
Occupation Political activist, student, musician
Organization Pussy Riot
Criminal charge Hooliganism motivated by religious hatred
Criminal penalty 2 years imprisonment
Criminal status Released under amnesty on December 23, 2013

Maria Vladimirovna "Masha" Alyokhina (Russian: Мари́я Влади́мировна 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.


On August 17, 2012, she 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.[3] 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 too is a published poet.[4] 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. Her son Filip was born in 2008. She is a vegan and reportedly collapsed from hunger during the trial, as no vegan meals were provided in detention.[5]

She played an active role in the Pussy Riot trial, cross-examining witnesses, and aggressively questioning the charges and proceedings.[6] She said in her closing statement:[7]

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[8] 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.[9]

Sochi detention[edit]

Alyokhina in 2012

In February 2014, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were detained in Sochi by the Adler Police in connection with an alleged hotel theft. They were released without charge.[10] 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.[11]

Awards and honors[edit]

She was co-winner of the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought (2014).[12]

In popular culture[edit]

A documentary following the Pussy Riot court cases, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.[13]

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.[14]


  1. ^ "Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yuri Andrukhovych receive the Hannah-Arendt-Prize 2014". Heinrich Boell Foundation. July 24, 2014. 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 July 23, 2012. 
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ "Литературная карта России: Студия: Мария Алехина". Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  5. ^ Robert Mackey (August 15, 2012). "Actress Writes to Putin to Demand Vegan Meals for Jailed Punk Protesters". The Lede. The New York Times. Retrieved August 22, 2012. 
  6. ^ 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. Retrieved August 9, 2012. 
  7. ^ "'Так называемый процесс'". Novaya Gazeta. 8 August 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "Pussy riot member released". December 23, 2013. Retrieved January 2, 2015. 
  9. ^ "2 Pussy Riots Band Members assaulted in Moscow". IANS. Retrieved 7 March 2014. 
  10. ^ "Pussy Riot Members Nadezhda 'Nadya' Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina Detained in Sochi Ahead of Protest Performance". Newsweek. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  11. ^ "Pussy Riot whipped at Sochi Games by Cossacks". 19 February 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  12. ^ "Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yuri Andrukhovych receive the Hannah-Arendt-Prize 2014". Heinrich Böll Foundation. 24 July 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  13. ^ Stern, Marlow (2013-01-26). "Sundance's Best Documentary: 'Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  14. ^ "Chapter 29". House of Cards. Season 3. Episode 3. Netflix. 

External links[edit]