Maria Alyokhina

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

(1988-06-06) June 6, 1988 (age 32)
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: 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.

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]


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 Russian penal and judicial system.

Sochi detention[edit]

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.[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] Alyokhina currently faces up to two years jail.[14] 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]

Personal life[edit]

She has one son named Filip, born in 2008, with Nikita Demidov.[17] 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.[18] She is currently in a relationship with fellow Pussy Riot member Lucy Shtein.[19]

Awards and honors[edit]

She was co-winner of the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought (2014).[20]

In popular culture[edit]

A documentary following the Pussy Riot court cases, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.[21]

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.[22]

In 2017 she published a memoir on her trial and time in prison, entitled "Riot Days".[23] A live performance based on the book which accompanies the text with live music and projected video has toured internationally.


  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.
  3. ^ Emma S (November 30, 2017). "Masha Alyokhina: "Riot Days" | Talks at Google". YouTube. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  4. ^ Max Seddon January 5, 2018 (January 5, 2018). "Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina talks prison and protest | Financial Times". 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.
  6. ^ "Литературная карта России: Студия: Мария Алехина". 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. 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. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  9. ^ "'Так называемый процесс'". Novaya Gazeta. August 8, 2012. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  10. ^ "Pussy riot member released". December 23, 2013. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  11. ^ "2 Pussy Riots Band Members assaulted in Moscow". IANS. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  12. ^ "Pussy Riot Members Nadezhda 'Nadya' Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina Detained in Sochi Ahead of Protest Performance". Newsweek. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  13. ^ "Pussy Riot whipped at Sochi Games by Cossacks". February 19, 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  14. ^ a b Bloom, Madison. "Pussy Riot's Masha Alekhina Arrested for Attending Anti-Putin Protest". Pitchfork.
  15. ^ Erizanu, Paula. "Pussy Riot's Masha Alyokhina is back in prison after supporting opposition protesters". The Calvert Journal.
  16. ^ "Pussy Riot's Masha Alekhina faces jail time following anti-Putin protest". Dazed. January 30, 2021.
  17. ^ "One Year After Pussy Riot Verdict, Children Still Coming To Grips With Mothers' Jailing". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty.
  18. ^ "Punk rock band: three profiles in Russian protest". August 17, 2012 – via
  19. ^ Blistein, Jon; Blistein, Jon (February 23, 2021). "Pussy Riot Team Up With Dorian Electra, 100 Gecs' Dylan Brady for New Song 'Toxic'".
  20. ^ "Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yuri Andrukhovych receive the Hannah-Arendt-Prize 2014". Heinrich Böll Foundation. July 24, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  21. ^ Stern, Marlow (January 26, 2013). "Sundance's Best Documentary: 'Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer'". The Daily Beast. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  22. ^ "Chapter 29". House of Cards. Season 3. Episode 3. Netflix.
  23. ^ Pinkham, Sophie (October 17, 2017). "'Riot Days': A Memoir of Punk Protest and Prison Activism". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 8, 2019.

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