Sunday 19th August, 2018
16.9
12 ℃ | 17 ℃Edinburgh
pussy-riots-alyokhina-defies-ban-on-leaving-russia

A member of the Russian punk protest band Pussy Riot managed to travel from Moscow to Britain, defying what the group said was an order prohibiting her from leaving the country.

Maria Alyokhina 'has found a way to escape' despite an 'official ban' on leaving Russia, an August 9 post on a Pussy Riot account on Twitter said.

It said she was flying to Edinburgh, Scotland, where the group planned to take part in the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival from August 10 to August 19.

A day earlier, Alyokhina's colleague Pyotr Verzilov tweeted that she was stopped by border guards while trying to fly from Moscow to Britain and officially informed that she was barred from leaving the country.

The reason given was that she had refused to serve a community-service sentence for a previous protest against the Federal Security Service (FSB), which is in charge of Russia's border guards.

Alyokhina told the Guardian newspaper that she drove more than 1,000 kilometers through Belarus and entered European Union member state Lithuania, where she boarded a flight for Britain.

"It was nothing extraordinary," she told the Guardian.

Belarus and Russia have close ties and border security is relatively loose.

On August 7, Alyokhina and two other activists staged a protest in front of the headquarters of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) in Moscow.

The activists hung a red poster on the building bearing 'FSIN = GULAG,' as well as several photos of men in prison uniforms who appeared to have been beaten. Each photo had penitentiary numbers and locations.

The action was meant to protest against what activists called the beating and torture of inmates by prison guards across Russia.

Alyokhina and two other members of Pussy Riot came to prominence after they were convicted of 'hooliganism motivated by religious hatred' for a stunt in which they burst into Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral and sang a 'punk prayer' against Vladimir Putin, who was prime minister and campaigning for his return to the presidency at the time.

Alyokhina and bandmate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were close to the end of their two-year prison sentences when they were freed in December 2013, under an amnesty they dismissed as a propaganda stunt to improve Putin's image ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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