Pussy Riot thank Amnesty campaigners for support
Campaigners from Amnesty International on Friday honoured two members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot who served 22 months in prison for staging a shock performance in a Moscow cathedral in 2012.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina thanked their supporters during their week-long visit to Britain, their first time in the country, in which they will also speak at the Cambridge Union and to British lawmakers in a parliament building.
"I believe in you!" Tolokonnikova said at the dinner in London, attended by human rights campaigners who wrote letters to the pair in prison and to Russian President Vladimir Putin to demand their release.
Asked whether Britain should stop letting in Russian oligarchs, Alyokhina said: "We are absolutely not happy that Russian officials are stealing money and taking it to Europe to enjoy themselves.
"We can't tell local politicians who to allow in and who to ban.
The only thing we can say is that corruption is a bad thing and on that basis they might think about who they let in," she said.
The two women were convicted over their performance critical of Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church.
They had almost served their sentences in full when they were freed under an amnesty in December 2013.
They have since set up a centre to campaign for prisoners' rights in the Mordovia region around 320 miles (510 kilometres) southeast of Moscow where Tolokonnikova served her sentence.
She said she was unconcerned by a law passed in 2012 in Russia requiring all charities engaged in what officials perceive as political activity with foreign funding to register as "foreign agents".
"We're not worried.
We keep working," Tolokonnikova said, adding: "In some circles, being branded as a 'foreign agent' is a mark of quality".
© 2014 AFP