| Scott Malone |
CAMBRIDGE, Mass (Reuters) – Two members of Russia’s Pussy Riot protest group found supporters of their opposition to President Vladimir Putin during their almost two years in prison, even fielding autograph requests from guards, the activists said on Monday.
The pair, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were jailed after performing a profanity-laced protest against Putin at a Moscow cathedral in 2012. They were released from prison in December, three months before the scheduled end of their sentences and two months before the Sochi Olympics. Many in the West had criticised the harshness of their sentences, charging that Russian authorities were cracking down on political dissent.
“There really is a very big urge among ordinary Russians for change, even among people who serve the country, for change and for the country to look dramatically different, but the problem is the time is not right and people do not yet see the right method for that change to happen,” Alyokhina told an audience of students and academics at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“I really did meet people like that among a lot of the uniformed people that we met in our time in prison,” Alyokhina said, relying on Pyotr Verzilon, Tolokonnikova’s Canadian-Russian husband, to translate her remarks into English from Russian.