The lead singer of Russian protest band, Pussy Riot, has escaped house arrest in Moscow by disguising herself as a delivery driver,
Maria Alyokhina was facing a sentence in a penal colony under harsh laws banning criticism in the country. But she was able to evade police in the Russian capital despite effectively being under house arrest in an escape she likened to a “spy novel”.
Now safely in Lithuania, Alyokhina is among tens of thousands of Russians who have left the country after draconian laws to clamp down on opposition were brought in following the invasion of Ukraine.
She said the band now plans to tour to raise money for those affected by the war.
She told The New York Times : “A lot of magic happened last week. It sounds like a spy novel.”
In an interview, she revealed that she disguised herself as a food courier to get away from Moscow, where she was being closely watched.
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Alyokhina, 33, said: “I don’t think Russia has a right to exist anymore.
“Even before, there were questions about how it is united, by what values it is united, and where it is going.
“But now I don’t think that is a question anymore.”
Alyokhina, who has been jailed repeatedly for staging protests against the Putin regime, was able to cross the border into Belarus.
She was helped by an Icelandic friend who was able to smuggle her travel documents.These helped her reach Lithuania a week later, the newspaper reported, as her Russian passport had been confiscated by authorities.
She said that although modern Russia looks like a “big demon” from the outside, her escape demonstrates that it is “very disorganised”.
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In her experience, the activist said, the “right-hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing”.
Punk band Pussy Riot were first catapulted into the limelight a decade ago when they held a dramatic anti-Putin protest at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow.
This landed members a two-year prison sentence but did not deter their activism.