Pussy Riot founder slams Alex Salmond’s Russian TV hosts

Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina defied a travel ban to visit Edinburgh and says appearing on Russia Today, as Alex Salmond does, is akin to backing Vladimir Putin. Picture: Greg Macvean
Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina defied a travel ban to visit Edinburgh and says appearing on Russia Today, as Alex Salmond does, is akin to backing Vladimir Putin. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A founding member of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot has accused western politicians who work with her country’s state media of “supporting terrorists”.

Maria Alyokhina said it was “awful” that figures such as former First Minister Alex Salmond had chosen to work with Russia Today, the Kremlin-backed TV channel, helping to give the broadcaster credibility in the West.

Alyokhina, who is performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, accused those working with the state media of helping provide cover for the work of the Russian security services, who she called “terrorists”.

One of three original members of Pussy Riot, Alyokhina spent time in prison after performing a “punk prayer” against President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral in 2012. She defied a travel ban to travel to Scotland earlier this week where she will a perform a show at Summerhall based on her memoir, Riot Days.

“We are here to say that Russia is not only Putin’s state, but us as well and all the people that are against these politics,” she said.

Riot Days is our story of resistance and our story of truth. I want people to hear us and know that anybody can be an activist, be Pussy Riot.”

Asked about Russia Today (RT), the news channel which features The Alex Salmond Show, she said: “It’s not independent journalism at all. This is a huge media organisation with almost a governmental level of budget.

“Russia Today does not provide independent information, it works for the Russian government.”

Asked about western politicians working for RT, she said: “I think it’s awful. We all understand that any politician is an example for people and that’s a bad example. All the Russian propaganda TV channels are not working to provide information, but to provide hatred. Russia Today is not an exception.

“If they are working with these people then they are supporting terrorists because the [Russian security service] FSB are terrorists. They are using terrorist methods.

“We have a situation where you can go to prison because of a Facebook post or the re-tweet of a political statement. The FSB arrest people, they torture people – it’s a part of the system.”

Salmond was approached for comment by Scotland on Sunday yesterday, but he did not respond.

The Pussy Riot collective has become famous for a number of high-profile protests against the Russian government, even managing to interrupt last month’s World Cup final in Moscow by storming the pitch.

Earlier this week, Alyokhina posted on social media, saying she had been banned from leaving Russia after attempting to board a flight.

She then drove more than 600 miles through Belarus and into Lithuania, where she boarded a flight for the UK.

Alyokhina said she believed the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury earlier this year – which Britain blames on Moscow – showed there was now a new “cold war” between Russian and the West.