Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina escapes Vladimir Putin’s Russia 'dressed as a food courier'

The lead singer of Russian punk band Pussy Riot has fled the country disguised as food courier – in an escape she likened to a "spy novel".

By Gary Flockhart
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 12:44 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 1:19 pm

Maria Alyokhina, who was under house arrest, was facing a sentence in a penal colony under harsh laws banning criticism of warmongering Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Remarkably, the singer was able to evade police in Moscow, disguising herself as a food courier and leaving behind her mobile phone as a decoy.

Ms Alyokhina then successfuly crossed into Lithuania after seeking the help of an artist from Iceland, who secured her travel documents.

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She told The New York Times: “A lot of magic happened last week. It sounds like a spy novel.

“I was happy that I made it, because it was an unpredictable… I still don’t understand completely what I’ve done.

“I don’t think Russia has a right to exist anymore.

“Even before, there were questions about how it is united, by what values it is united, and where it is going.

Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina. Picture: Greg Macvean

"But now I don’t think that is a question anymore.”

Ms Alyokhina and her fellow band members came to world attention in 2012, after staging a protest against the Russian president inside Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral.

Despite being sentenced to two years in prison for their activism, the protest group continued to speak out against the Kremlin leader, with Ms Alyokhina remaining determined to fight Mr Putin's system.

She said it was “awful” that figures such as former First Minister Alex Salmond had chosen to work with Russia Today, the Kremlin-backed TV channel, helping to give the broadcaster credibility in the West.

Alyokhina, who was performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at the time, accused those working with the state media of helping provide cover for the work of the Russian security services, who she called “terrorists”.

“We are here to say that Russia is not only Putin’s state, but us as well and all the people that are against these politics,” she said.

“Riot Days is our story of resistance and our story of truth. I want people to hear us and know that anybody can be an activist, be Pussy Riot.”

Asked about Russia Today (RT), the news channel which featured The Alex Salmond Show, she said: “It’s not independent journalism at all. This is a huge media organisation with almost a governmental level of budget.

“Russia Today does not provide independent information, it works for the Russian government.”

Asked about western politicians working for RT, she said: “I think it’s awful. We all understand that any politician is an example for people and that’s a bad example. All the Russian propaganda TV channels are not working to provide information, but to provide hatred. Russia Today is not an exception.

“If they are working with these people then they are supporting terrorists because the [Russian security service] FSB are terrorists. They are using terrorist methods.

“We have a situation where you can go to prison because of a Facebook post or the re-tweet of a political statement. The FSB arrest people, they torture people – it’s a part of the system.”