Pussy Riot fine with not winning art award here since their political objective is achieved

Members from dissident Russian music/art collective Pussy Riot say they did not have trouble coming to Singapore to attend the inaugural Prudential Eye Awards, which were held on Saturday night at Suntec City Mall.

The Awards celebrated emerging contemporary artists across greater Asia and the Pacific.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina say in an exclusive interview with The Straits Times Life!, that they faced no visa application problems. This is their first trip out of Russia since their release from jail last month, following a Kremlin-backed amnesty bill.

The pair and fellow activist Yekaterina Samutsevich had been convicted on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after staging a "punk prayer" in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour last February.

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Tolokonnikova reveals: "There will be a review of our case at a hearing at the Moscow regional court after the Supreme Court found alleged violations in our case."

This is due to be heard on Jan 24.

They say they will also be focusing their efforts on establishing an NGO which protects the rights of prisoners in Russia's jails, having experienced prison life for themselves.

They were in town because their work was nominated in the digital/video category of the awards, but they did not win.

They say not winning does not bother them the least bit.

"It's not important to us," explains Tolokonnikova.

"We are people who engage in social issues and political activism. Art is a means through which we can speak. This is a good chance for us to meet with you, to visit Asia, and to make contacts here.'"

She and Alyokhina leave Singapore for Russia on Monday.

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