Pussy Riot to visit Singapore

MOSCOW - Two Pussy Riot punk rockers recently freed from jail will this week travel to Singapore where their controversial anti-Putin video has been shortlisted for an award, the husband of one of them said on Tuesday.

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Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina will make their first foreign trip abroad since their release from prison last month to attend the inaugural Prudential Eye Awards which celebrates emerging Asian artists. 

Tolokonnikova's husband Pyotr Verzilov told AFP the two women whose work has been shortlisted for the awards ceremony would be in Singapore on Jan 16-20. 

In February 2012, five members of the Pussy Riot band jumped around the altar of Moscow's top church, the Christ the Saviour Cathedral, and attempted to sing what they called a "punk prayer'' calling on the Virgin Mary to drive Russian strongman Vladimir Putin from power. 

Three of the five members including Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were identified and sentenced to two years in prison for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

Yekaterina Samutsevich, 31, was released in October 2012 after being given a suspended sentence.

Video footage of the stunt the band uploaded online was later banned in Russia. 

The controversial video is nominated alongside works of China's Yang Yong Liang and Baden Pailthorpe and Daniel Crooks, both from Australia, in the digital/video category, one of the ceremony's five categories, organisers said on their website. 

The winner of each category will be awarded a prize of US$20,000 (660,000 baht) and the overall winner will receive another $30,000 and an opportunity to exhibit their work at the Saatchi Gallery in London, organisers said. 

The winners will be announced on Saturday.

Russian art expert Andrei Yerofeyev, who himself was accused of inciting religious hatred with an exhibition of provocative art in 2007 and barely avoided jail time, will sit on the judges panel, the organisers said. 

In December, Tolokonnikova, 24 and Alyokhina, 25, were released two months early under a Kremlin-backed amnesty ahead of the Winter Olympic Games the Kremlin hosts in Sochi next month.

The two women, both of whom have small children, slammed their release as a PR stunt and said they would set up a rights group to protect prisoners' rights. 

At their first news conference since their release, the women said last month they still wanted Putin out of power and would like freed ex-tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky to replace him.

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