Pussy Riot singer flees Russia by disguising herself as a food courier

Pussy Riot singer flees Russia while under house arrest for activism – by disguising herself as a food courier

  • Pussy Riot leader dresses as food courier to fool police and escape Moscow 
  • Maria Alyokhina is now safely in Lithuania with fellow band members 
  • Daring move comes as she was under house arrest and facing penal colony
  • Russia has been locking up activists under draconian new anti-dissent laws 
  • A member of the notorious Russian activist band Pussy Riot had to flee Moscow in the guise of a food courier after Vladimir Putin started to crack down hard on their brand of dissent.

    Maria Alyokhina was facing 21 days in a penal colony once she had finished another stint under house arrest for her latest act of rebellion in criticising Putin’s war in Ukraine.

    The Pussy Riot leader decided it was better to leave her home country than get lost in the Russian penal colony system and came up with a bold and ingenious disguise. 

    Alyokhina is a long-time critic of the Russian president who first came to the repressive attentions of Russian authorities when her punk activist band Pussy Riot performed a scandalous protest song in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral in 2012.

    This act of rebellion earned her two years in jail for ‘hooliganism’ and she has continued her career of professional disobedience ever since, having been jailed six times for 15 days each since just last summer. 

    Maria Alyokhina posted a picture of herself to social media before she made her daring escape

    Lucy Shtein disguised herself as a food courier to escape Russia a month ago

    Pussy Riot singer Maria Alyokhina fled house arrest in Moscow dressed as a food courier. Pictured: Maria Alyokhina, left, and fellow Pussy Riot member, Lucy Shtein, right

    Pussy Riot members clad in balaclavas stage their protest inside Christ The Saviour Cathedral in Moscow in February 2012

    Pussy Riot members clad in balaclavas stage their protest inside Christ The Saviour Cathedral in Moscow in February 2012

    They sang a protest song against Vladimir Putin's repressive regime ten years before he gave the order to invade Ukraine. They received two years in jail for their act of dissent

    They sang a protest song against Vladimir Putin’s repressive regime ten years before he gave the order to invade Ukraine. They received two years in jail for their act of dissent

    Maria Alyokhina, member of Russian punk band Pussy Riot, speaks to the media at a train station in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia on December 23, 2013, as she faced two years in prison for 'hooliganism' over her performance of a protest song in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral in 2012

    Maria Alyokhina, member of Russian punk band Pussy Riot, speaks to the media at a train station in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia on December 23, 2013, as she faced two years in prison for ‘hooliganism’ over her performance of a protest song in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral in 2012

    Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, May 10, 2022 in Moscow. Since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24, Russian authorities have effectively outlawed all dissent with harsh jail sentences

    Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, May 10, 2022 in Moscow. Since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24, Russian authorities have effectively outlawed all dissent with harsh jail sentences

    But in April Russian authorities started to take off the gloves when dealing with activists who had previously – before the catastrophic invasion of Ukraine – only been pesky. 

    She dressed herself as a food courier to fool police who staked out the friend’s house she was staying in and left her phone behind to trick anyone bugging it to learn her location.

    A friend drove her across the border into Belarus without issues but crossing into the European Union via Lithuania was a bigger challenge, being turned away on her first attempt.

    Alyokhina told the NY Times that Icelandic performance artist Ragnar Kjartansson convinced a European country to issue Ms. Alyokhina a travel document that essentially gave her the same status as an EU citizen. The country’s officials asked that it not be named.

    The document was smuggled to her, eventually permitting her to enter Lithuania a week after she arrived in Belarus and escape the clutches of Putin’s security apparatus.

    ‘A lot of magic happened last week,’ she said. ‘It sounds like a spy novel.’ 

    Masked members of protest band Pussy Rot leave a police station in Adler during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia February 18, 2014.

    Masked members of protest band Pussy Rot leave a police station in Adler during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia February 18, 2014.

    Two members of Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were detained in connection with a theft in the Winter Olympics host city of Sochi, less than two months after their release from prison under an amnesty

    Two members of Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were detained in connection with a theft in the Winter Olympics host city of Sochi, less than two months after their release from prison under an amnesty

    Maria Alyokhina, smiles to her supporters as she is delivered to Khamovnichesky district court in Moscow, Russia.

    Maria Alyokhina 'Pussy Riot' at a court hearing in Moscow, Russia - 04 Jul 2012

    Maria Alyokhina was arrested in 2012 after Pussy Riot’s performance clad in balaclavas of a protest song inside Christ The Saviour Cathedral in Moscow in February 2012

    Now in Vilnius, she is joined by a growing number of Pussy Riot members, as activists of all stripes abandon Russia in the wake of the Russian state’s decision to crush all dissent that was previously tolerated.

    After Moscow initiated its ‘special operation’ on Feb 24, the state Duma quickly passed laws outlawing any reporting that referred to it as a ‘war’ or ‘invasion’, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

    In 2013 Alyokhina founded Mediazona, a news outlet that focuses on abuses in Russia’s prison systems.

    The whole Pussy Riot collective have been repeatedly harassed and targeted on politically motivated grounds by the Russian authorities.

    ‘They are scared because they cannot control us,’ she said. 

    Alyokhina will join her girlfriend and fellow Pussy Riot member Lucy Shtein in exile in the European Union, along with tens of thousands of Russians who have have recently fled Russia.