May 07, 2014

Cardin Welcomes Members of Pussy Riot to U.S. Capitol to Spotlight Deteriorating Human Rights in Russia

WASHINGTON – On the second anniversary of the Russian Government’s crackdown on Bolotnaya Square protests in Moscow, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senator Foreign Relations Committee and Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, met at the U.S. Capitol with Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria [Masha] Alyokhina of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot. The women, who have experienced firsthand the harsh and political nature of Russia’s judicial system, are visiting Washington to highlight the need for prompt, full and ongoing implementation of the Magnitsky Act; which was authored by Senator Cardin.

 

“We are thankful for the courage of members of Pussy Riot who came here to underscore what we agree is critically important: the only way we will get advancements on protecting human rights is to shine a spotlight on those who are violating human rights. At great personal risk, they have spoken out about human rights in Russia. We stand with them today to stand up and make it clear that we will not accept these behaviors.

 

“The Helsinki Final Act says that it is not only our right, but our responsibility, to question gross violations of human rights in any nation that is part of the Helsinki Process. We are upholding this responsibility today as it related to gross violations of human rights in Russia. We look forward to the Obama Administration’s latest update on the Magnitsky Act, which is due mid-May.

 

“Russia today does not respect the human rights of all its citizens. Nadia and Masha represent the growing number of victims in Russia today. We are grateful for their courage. They have partners in Congress who support their efforts to bring about the type of reforms the people of Russia deserve.”

 

Pussy Riot is not a rock band, but rather a feminist punk protest group. They do not give concerts, but stage provocative performances in public locations, one of which led to the arrest of Ms. Tolokonnikova and Ms. Alyokhina on charges of hooliganism for which they served two years in prison. Upon their release they immediately focused their advocacy work on those—like Sergei Magnitsky—who suffer and die all too often in Russia’s vast penal system.

 

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