Foreign Affairs Symposium

Activist and Pussy Riot co-founder Nadya Tolokonnikova to speak at Johns Hopkins

Founding member of all-female, anti-Putin, punk rock artist collective will speak as part of Foreign Affairs Symposium on Feb. 1

Activist Nadya Tolokonnikova—a founding member of the all-female, anti-Putin, punk rock artist collective Pussy Riot—will speak at Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday to kick off the 20th annual Foreign Affairs Symposium.

Nadya Tolokonnikova holds a sign reading

Image caption: Nadya Tolokonnikova

Image credit: Twitter

Formed in 2011, Pussy Riot stages guerrilla performance art demonstrations in public spaces in opposition to authoritarianism, and specifically Russian President Vladimir Putin. Clad in ski masks and neon clothing, the group voices—and often screams—messages in support of feminism and LGBTQ rights.

In 2012, Tolokonnikova and fellow Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina were imprisoned after participating in "Punk Prayer," a performance in the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Savior. They were convicted of "hooliganism" and held for a total of 20 months before being released in late 2013 under an amnesty bill.

Tolokonnikova called her release "cynical" and a "cosmetic measure" by Putin to foster international goodwill before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. She and Alyokhina intended to protest the Olympics, but were discovered and attacked with horsewhips by security.

Since springing onto the international stage with her arrest, Tolokonnikova has helped found MediaZona, a Russian news outlet aimed at countering misinformation. She has continued to create satirical music videos with political overtones, including a series of videos lambasting U.S. President Donald Trump.

Tolokonnikova will speak Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Shriver Hall on Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus.

The annual Foreign Affairs Symposium series, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is run by Johns Hopkins students and sponsored by the university's Office of Student Development and Programming. All events are free and open to the public; reserved seats can be purchased in advance through jhutickets.com. This year's theme is Undercurrent; a full lineup of speakers for the series is expected to be released next week.

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