Punks push for Putin replacement

The freed members of the Pussy Riot punk band said yesterday they still wanted Russian president Vladimir Putin out of power and would like ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky to replace him.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, and Maria Alyokhina, 25, made their call for Putin to go at their first news conference, hosted by an opposition television channel and clearly aimed at positioning them as figures of national importance.

“As far as Vladimir Putin is concerned, our attitude towards him has not changed,” Tolokonnikova told opposition television station Dozhd.

“We would still like to do what they put us in jail for. We would still like to drive him out.”

In Feb 2012, several members of Pussy Riot jumped around the altar of a church and sang what they called a “punk prayer” urging the Virgin Mary to “drive Putin out”.

Tolokonnikova said she would like Kremlin critic Khodorkovsky, who was last week released under a pardon, to run for president.

“I would very much like to invite Mikhail Borisovich [Khodorkovsky] to this post,” said Tolokonnikova.

“I am in solidarity with that,” added Alyokhina.

Asked to describe Putin, Tolokonnikova said he was “closed, non-transparent” and “a chekist”, a Soviet-era term for a member of security services.

Alyokhina slammed the top-down political system the former KGB agent built over his decade in power.

The band members said they would now focus on establishing a rights group to protect prisoners in Russia’s notorious jails.


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