Freed Pussy Riot rockers reunite in Siberia

Freed Pussy Riot rockers reunite in Siberia
Maria Alyokhina (centre), one of the jailed members of anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot, is surrounded by journalists and her supporters as she arrives in Moscow on December 23, 2013.

KRASNOYARSK, Russia - Two freed members of anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot on Tuesday met in Siberia for the first time since their release, discussing plans to set up a new rights group to help Russian prisoners.

Maria Alyokhina, who had been serving her sentence at a prison colony in the central city of Nizhny Novgorod, flew into the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk to meet up with bandmate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who was released from a prison hospital.

Alyokhina, 25, and Tolokonnikova, 24, were released two months early under a Kremlin-backed amnesty after serving most of their two-year sentences for staging a protest performance against Putin in an Orthodox cathedral in Moscow in February 2012.

Tolokonnikova's husband Pyotr Verzilov told AFP the two women had discussed plans to create "a fully-fledged organisation to help inmates."

The two punk rockers remained defiant after their release, denouncing their amnesty as a "PR stunt" and vowing to fight injustice in Russian prisons.

"In my last penal colony I had friends who told rights activists about their conditions and I will do everything in my power so that they do not come under pressure," the curly-haired Alyokhina said in televised remarks in Krasnoyarsk.

The young women, both of whom have small children, earlier Tuesday embraced at Krasnoyarsk airport surrounded by a crowd of journalists.

'Boycott the Olympics'

Showing she had lost none of her fighting spirit, Tolokonnikova said the chief of prison service in Mordovia, where she had served most of her sentence, should be removed from his post over what she said were numerous violations.

"Mordovia will receive its just deserts. Get ready," she said on Twitter.

The two women are expected to hold a news conference in Moscow on Friday.

Tolokonnikova on her release Monday showed she had no fear about wading into the most politicised of issues, calling on countries to boycott the Winter Olympic Games Russia is hosting in Sochi.

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