Pussy Riot’s Masha Alyokhina is back in prison after supporting opposition protesters

Pussy Riot’s Masha Alyokhina is back in prison after supporting opposition protesters

29 January 2021

Pussy Riot member Masha Alyokhina has been arrested in Moscow after attending court to support demonstrators detained during pro-opposition rallies.

The artist and activist was held by Moscow City Court on 27 January after coming out to observe proceedings for theatre director and choreographer Victoria Narakhsa and local councillor Lucy Shteyn.

Alyokhina, Narakhsa, and Shteyn were all initially detained on the evening of 23 January near Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre following mass protests in support of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Shteyn and Alyokhina were both accused of “organising unsanctioned protests” for posting on social media that they would be attending the rally. Shteyn received a 10-day detention, while Alyokhina was freed and fined 30,000 roubles (£290). Narakhsa too received a 10-day jail term for “police disobedience”. Alyokhina later said that when Narakhsa had asked how she’s disobeyed orders, officers answered that she had “resisted passively”.

After her initial release, Alyokhina was detained for 48 hours after attending court, with officers charging her with “violating the sanitary and epidemiological rules” — a criminal offence in Russia during the coronavirus pandemic. The police conducted a search in her apartment in her absence while the artist was detained in a police car nearby. They then took her to Narakhsa’s flat and held another search, taking Alyokhina’s phone, laptop, and a t-shirt.

“Pussy Riot’s Masha Alyokhina is detained, she faces criminal charges and two years in jail,” Pussy Riot co-founder Nadya Tolokonnikova wrote on Instagram. “They clearly have nothing else to do but to put Pussy Riot in jail over and over again,” Tolokonnikova added.

More than 4,000 people have been detained following the anti-government protests on 23 January, which are the biggest to rock the country since 2012. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets across different cities to protest the jailing of former presidential candidate Navalny, who was detained at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport after arriving on a flight from Berlin. He had previously been hospitalised in Germany after being poisoned with a nerve agent in August 2020, in what he has named a Kremlin-backed plot.

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