Pussy Riot: Power to join them? Russia wants to know.

A meeting between U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power and previously jailed members of the dissident Russian band Pussy Riot drew annoyance from Russian leaders, Wednesday. 

REUTERS/Louis Charbonneau
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power (L) meets (L-R) Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of the Russian band Pussy Riot and Nadezha's husband Pyotr Verzilov in New York, Wednesday.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power on Wednesday discussed "disturbing" trends in Russia with previously jailed members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, prompting Moscow's U.N. envoy to ask if she was joining the group.

Power, who was well known for her own human rights activism before she joined the first administration of U.S. President Barack Obama after his 2008 election, met at the U.S. mission to the U.N. with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina ahead of their appearance at an all-star concert.

Power and the two band members discussed "the disturbing trend in (Russia) of legislation, prosecutions and government actions aimed at suppressing dissent and pressuring groups that advocate for fundamental human rights and basic government accountability," Power's deputy spokesman Kurtis Cooper said.

The case of Pussy Riot sparked a global outcry. In 2012 Tolokonnikova, 24, and Alyokhina, 25, were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after storming Moscow's biggest Orthodox cathedral and beseeching the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of President Vladimir Putin.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin was asked about Power's roughly half-hour meeting with the two Pussy Riot members during a briefing at the Russia mission.

"She has not joined the band?" he asked. "I would expect her to invite them to perform at the National Cathedral in Washington. This is my expectation."

"Maybe they could arrange a world tour for them, you know," he said. "St Peter's Cathedral in Rome, then maybe in Mecca in Saudi Arabia, ending up with a gala concert at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. So if Ambassador Power fell short I would be disappointed."

Russia's leadership has not attempted to hide its annoyance when Washington criticizes Moscow for its human rights record. The Russian Federation has in turn accused the United States of rights abuses at home.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.