Members of Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (C) and Maria Alyokhina, leave the inaugural Prudential Eye Awards in Singapore on Jan. 18, 2014.
Edgar Su/Reuters

Pussy Riot members to headline Brooklyn concert

Formerly jailed punk rockers Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, members of the Russian band Pussy Riot, will headline an Amnesty International concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn next month, the human rights organization announced on Tuesday.

The Feb. 5 concert falls two days before the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and just over a month after the two women were released from prison in a high-profile amnesty approval by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The release was belittled as a public relations push designed to minimize international criticism of the Russian leader, who has instituted a series of harsh policies on human rights and civil liberties since regaining the presidency in 2012.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were nearly finished serving a two-year sentence for donning ski masks and staging anti-Putin protests inside a Moscow cathedral when they were freed under a new amnesty law last December. The group’s members had been charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, and were due to be released from prison next March. One of the members, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed a few months after sentencing.

Amnesty activists campaigned intensely for their release.

“We are happy to support Amnesty International’s work on behalf of human rights and political prisoners,” said Tolokonnikova and Alekhina in a press release Tuesday. “We, more than anyone, understand how important Amnesty’s work is in connecting activists to prisoners…We will never forget what it’s like to be in prison after a political conviction.”

Other groups slated to perform include The Flaming Lips, Imagine Dragons, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Tegan and Sara, The Fray, Cold War Kids, Colbie Caillat, and Cake.

Olympics and Vladimir Putin

Pussy Riot members to headline Brooklyn concert