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Human Rights Activist, Founding Member of Pussy Riot

Nadya Tolokonnikova: Biography at a Glance

  • Founding member of Pussy Riot, a group that brings attention to human rights violations
  • Imprisoned for two years in Russian labor camps after a staged a performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow
  • Opened the Mordovia office of Zona Prava, a prisoners’ rights organization
  • Founded the independent news service, MediaZona
  • Spoke before the U.S. Congress and the British Parliament 
Human Rights Activist, Founding Member of Pussy Riot

As co-founder of Pussy Riot, Nadya Tolokonnikova spent two years in jail for performing an anti-Putin concert in a Moscow cathedral. Her imprisonment sparked global debate about freedom of expression and the role of art in fighting tyranny.

Since her release, she’s founded a prison reform charity, an independent news service, and brought her story to audiences worldwide.

Nadezhda (Nadya) Tolokonnikova is an artist, political activist, and founding member of Pussy Riot, the punk rock art collective that garnered international headlines, and support, after several members were sent to jail following a performance in the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

Tolokonnikova is the recipient of The Lennon Ono Grant for Peace, and is a co-recipient of The Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought. Following her release in 2013, she opened the Mordovia office of Zona Prava, a prisoners rights non-governmental organization. Later, she started MediaZona, an independent news service now partnered with The Guardian.

She has spoken before the US Congress and British Parliament and has appeared on stage with figures such as Bill Clinton and Muhammad Yunus. Following a meeting with Julian Assange in November 2014, she became a board member of his Courage Foundation.

Recently, Tolokonnikova appeared as herself in the hit show House of Cards. She also performed the new Pussy Riot song “Refugees In” as part of the artist Banksy’s Dismaland exhibition in 2015.

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