Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics: Pussy Riot Members Appear in Star-Studded Concert; Demand ‘Free Russia’ ahead of Opening Ceremony

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By Gopi Chandra Kharel | February 7, 2014 12:04 AM EST

Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L) and Maria Alyokhina are pictured during the Amnesty International Bringing Human Rights Home concert in New York February 5, 2014.
Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L) and Maria Alyokhina are pictured during the Amnesty International Bringing Human Rights Home concert in New York February 5, 2014.

Hours before the start of the Sochi Winter Olympics, two members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot have urged for a 'boycott' of the event and have demanded a 'free Russia'.

At a star-studded New York concert on Wednesday, the punk protest group's members were hailed by singing sensation Madonna, amid thousands of cheering audiences.

The American pop icon hailed the exceptional courage and fearlessness displayed by band members Maria Alyokhina, 25, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, who were released from prison in December by the Russian government; a decision many felt was to avoid backlashes ahead of the winter Olympics.

"It is my privilege and my honour, ladies and gentlemen, to introduce Masha and Nadya from Pussy Riot," Madonna shouted onstage, as the ecstatic spectators, at the Amnesty International Concert went into frenzy.

The pair, who was among the members sentenced to 21 months in jail for 'hooliganism' after performing a protest stunt inside a Moscow cathedral, advocated their displeasure towards the Putin regime, in an emotional and furious shout-out.

"We will not forgive and we will not forget what the regime is doing to our fellow citizens," Tolokonnikova told the crowd at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn.

"We demand a Russia that is free," she added.

Russian punk band Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina (L) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova speak on stage during Amnesty International's
Russian punk band Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina (L) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova speak on stage during Amnesty International's "Bringing Human Rights Home" (Reuters)

In an interview with the New York Times, the band members also advocated a "boycott" and "other subversive actions", aimed at the Sochi showpiece which is about to begin.

"What happened was that the support and care shown internationally around the world made us free even though, physically, we were behind bars," Alyokhina told the newspaper. "In light of that, it's kind of silly to talk about having to go through that a second time as something that would instill fear in us."

The women are in their first visit to the United States as part of their international tour, after they were released from prison on 23 December for performing an anti-Putin performance. Their tour has also included stops in Asia and Europe.

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(Photo: / )
Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L) and Maria Alyokhina are pictured during the Amnesty International Bringing Human Rights Home concert in New York February 5, 2014.
(Photo: / )
Russian punk band Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina (L) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova speak on stage during Amnesty International's "Bringing Human Rights Home" (Reuters)
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