Nadya Tolokonnikova (R) and Maria Alyokhina (C), members of the Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot, leave the Senate Foreign Relations Committee room at the U.S. Capitol on May 6, 2014
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Pussy Riot lobbies Congress for more sanctions against Russia

Updated

U.S. lawmakers rolled out the proverbial red carpet for Russian punk group Pussy Riot Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

In a private meeting, two of the band’s members, Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, described some of the human rights violations they witnessed first-hand under President Vladimir Putin’s leadership and petitioned senators on the Foreign Relations Committee to crack down even harder against Russia.

The two activists requested that Congress add 16 more names to the list of Russian human rights abusers who face sanctions – including the Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

“These sanctions allow a huge number of people to talk about the human rights violations as a result,” said Tolokonnikova through a translator.

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Republican senators have also been pushing for further sanctions, saying the one’s in place need to go further.

The United States has the legal ability to freeze assets and ban U.S. travel to any Russians on this list. Right now, at least 18 people have been publicly hit with these sanctions, and an untold number of others also face these penalties.

“Putin is not leading Russia to stability, but to complete instability and chaos,” said Tolokonnikova, according to the AP. She warned, “Silence is the most dangerous thing for a political prisoner.”

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut who was in attendance said the economic blow from sanctions will have a domino effect, encouraging Russians fight back and curb human rights offenders.

People will start to care much more about the fact the they, like these two brave women standing next to us, have lost their ability to grieve their government,” said Murphy.

The women served nearly two years of jail time in Russian prisons after organizing an anti-Putin protest in 2012. The band has received worldwide attention for becoming an outspoken critic of Putin’s administration, rife with increasingly limited freedoms and ruthless maneuvering against those who dare to speak out.

In February, Pussy Riot clashed with Russian authorities once again after being detained in Sochi near site of the 2014 Winter Olympics and in another incident, local police officers beat the women with whips.

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Pussy Riot lobbies Congress for more sanctions against Russia

Updated