Increasingly, what we were seeing was that artists using their voices for dissent were being prosecuted with greater frequency and harsher punishments. In 2012, Pussy Riot was certainly the most visible example of this. Voice Project stepped in.
We founded and managed The Pussy Riot International Support Fund to aid with legal efforts to secure the freedom of the imprisoned members of the group and to meet the security, care and support needs of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (Nadya) and Maria Alekhina (Masha) while they were incarcerated in the labor camps. Nadya and Masha were convicted and sent to two of Russia’s most notorious labor camps for two year sentences as punishment for a peaceful protest. Amnesty International recognized the women as official “Prisoners of Conscience.” The support fund was used to keep Nadya and Masha clothed, supplied, and monitored in the labor camps (this was critical for their safety), and for their legal expenses and their children’s care. After serving 21 months, Tolokonnikova and Alekhina were release on December 23rd, 2013.
From Pussy Riot:
Thank you very much for your support during these months – while we’re sitting down here, in Mordovia, in a weird region of Russia with lots of swamps that is mostly famous for its prison camps, it’s very strange and wonderful to realize that there are people who do things to support you on the other side of the planet. At New Year’s eve me and the other girls locked up in prison camp no.14 built a huge snake from snow with lots of eggs and small baby snakes and then turned these snow sculptures into green, blue and yellow with water colors – that was a very rare splash of color that this place sees. And the other colorful splash, I’ll repeat, does happen in your mind when you think about the people who worry about you and try to support you. That is very cool and thank you.
— Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, Prison camp no.14, Mordovia