Russia mocks U.S. envoy Power's meeting with Pussy Riot

NEW YORK Wed Feb 5, 2014 11:35pm GMT

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power (L) meets (L-R) Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of the Russian dissident band Pussy Riot and Nadezha's husband Pyotr Verzilov at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York February 5, 2014. REUTERS/Louis Charbonneau

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power (L) meets (L-R) Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of the Russian dissident band Pussy Riot and Nadezha's husband Pyotr Verzilov at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York February 5, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Louis Charbonneau

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - 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)

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Comments (2)
Raymond.Vermont wrote:
Ambassador Power should be the first to recognise which country currently tops the list for the incarceration of its own people and prison population size.

True Russia isn’t particularly brilliant upon that score either, but it is still somewhat better than the one that has made industrial levels of incarceration, a Corporate reality for over 2 million Americans!

Once again the U.S. draws attention to its many failings.

Feb 06, 2014 1:22pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
Raymond.Vermont wrote:
The average levels of incarceration per 100,000 population within Western Europe is roughly 150 per 100k, The glorious Land of the Free is circa 725 per 100k. (more than twice as high as Belarus and four times higher than China!)

The U.S. would be best steer clear of embarrassing itself on pretending it is a champion of human rights, when its own realities suggests otherwise.

Feb 06, 2014 1:29pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
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