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New York concert defies Putin on eve of Sochi

February 6 2014, 18:13

SMaria Alyokhina (L) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot speak onstage at the Amnesty International Concert presented by the CBGB Festival at Barclays Center on February 5, 2014 in New York City (AFP)Maria Alyokhina (L) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot speak onstage at the Amnesty International Concert presented by the CBGB Festival at Barclays Center on February 5, 2014 in New York City (AFP)Six members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot on Thursday accused their previously imprisoned bandmates of undermining the group's ideals by appearing at a charity concert introduced by Madonna, newsyahoo.com reports.

A letter posted on the group's blog lashed out at Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina for taking part in the concert organised by Amnesty International in New York on Wednesday.

Madonna introduced the women, who were dressed in tunics with crucifixes emblazoned on the front.

They delivered a furious and emotional rebuke of the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, chanting "Russia will be free!" to an ecstatic crowd.

But the appearance was poorly received by others in the group, which has a fluctuating membership that has never been fully revealed.

Selling concert tickets "is highly contradictory to the principles of Pussy Riot," said the letter, which was signed with six nicknames.

"We're a female separatist collective," it said. "We never accept money for our performances," and "we only stage illegal performances in unexpected public places."

 Madonna introduces Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot onstage at the Amnesty International Concert . Madonna introduces Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot onstage at the Amnesty International Concert .The letter also took issue with posters for the concert that showed a male guitarist in a balaclava, a trademark of the feminist group.

Tolokonnikova, 24, and Alyokhina, 25, were freed from Russian penal colonies in December three months before the end of their two-year sentences for staging an anti-Putin "punk prayer" performance in a Moscow cathedral.

They said on their release that they would focus on campaigning for the rights of prisoners.

Wednesday's concert in Brooklyn saw performances by The Flaming Lips and Blondie. Ticket prices started at $27.

"They have said in every interview that they have quit the group and no longer represent Pussy Riot," said the letter. "But all of their appearances are announced as appearances by Pussy Riot."

"They are no longer Pussy Riot," said the appeal signed by nicknames Cat, Garadzha, Fara, Shayba, Serafima and Shumakher.

"We have lost two friends, two ideological teammates, but the world has gained two brave rights activists," they said.

Five members in colourful tights and balaclavas staged the fateful cathedral performance in February 2012, with three arrested the following month.

One, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was later freed with a suspended sentence after a successful appeal.

The other two performers have never been identified.

Since the women were arrested, there have been no more guerrilla Pussy Riot performances in public places, although a music video targeting Russia's oil industry was published in July 2013, apparently by a splinter group that had set up a new website.

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