Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova on Putin’s Ukraine invasion: “He is insane”

Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova has spoken out in a new interview against Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, calling the Russian leader “insane”.

Tolokonnikova and her Pussy Riot bandmates have been longtime critics of Putin’s regime, with Tolokonnikova herself spending two years in a Siberian prison for dissenting. Earlier this year, she and bandmate Nika Nikulshina were labelled “foreign agents” by the Russian government.

  • READ MORE: Ukrainian artists on the Russian crisis: “Now is the time to push for change”

In a new interview with The Guardian, Tolokonnikova discussed her fears for the people of Ukraine and the jeopardy facing Russians who speak out against Putin.

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“Putin just signed a law that said you’re going to get 15 years in jail for even discussing the war in Ukraine,” she said. “You cannot even call it a war, you have to call it a special military operation.”

Last month, Tolokonnikova launched a new series of NFTs to support the relief effort in Ukraine, and the Guardian reports that the scheme raised over £5million in its first five days on sale.

Tolokonnikova commented: “We felt, me and my friends in crypto, that we had to react somehow. I’m personally convinced that in situations like this, activism is the only thing that can keep you sane. Just looking at disasters and tragedies and not doing anything about it is really detrimental for the world, but also it slowly destroys you and makes you feel helpless.”

Pussy Riot perform at the nearby Women's March (Credit: Joshua Mellin)
Pussy Riot perform at the Women’s March in Austin, Texas in 2021. (Credit: Joshua Mellin)

Of her feelings around the invasion, she told The Guardian: “I’m in a panic, I’m crying every day. I don’t think it was in any sense necessary, I don’t think it was in any sense logical. It wasn’t something that had to happen, it’s a disaster that will end thousands of people’s lives. I’m freaking out.”

She added: “The global community was extremely complacent, and I see two reasons: hypocrisy, based on greed. People would make statements that they did not support Putin’s politics, and his oppression of the political opposition, and the wars that he started – this isn’t the first war by any means. But at the same time they would continue doing business with him.”

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Alongside the activism and NFT sales, Pussy Riot have also this week (March 8) shared a new song called ‘Laugh It Off’ for International Women’s Day, and are launching a new organisation called UnicornDAO to help women and LGBTQ+ artists.

“Women-identified and LGBTQ+ people don’t need to be empowered, we need tools and funds to empower ourselves,” Tolokonnikova said in a statement. Listen to ‘Laugh It Off’ below.

Tonight (March 9), a ‘Night For Ukraine’ fundraising concert is due to take place at London’s Roundhouse, featuring Bob Geldof, Chrissie Hynde, the Ukrainian-born Bloom Twins, Ukrainian baritone and Royal Opera House Principal Artist Yuriy Yurchuk, Imelda May and more.

The event will see a number of artists performing to help raise money for the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). All money raised will be donated to the DEC to support humanitarian and emergency response work in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.

Speaking to NME recently about the ongoing war, Bloom Twins’ Anna Kuprienko said: “It’s important to strike for change. Now is the time for push for that. Post about it, go to the protests and talk about it. People think it’s just a Ukrainian conflict, but don’t even know what’s going to happen later.







“No one knows what’s going to happen to the Ukraine, no one knows what’s going to happen to the whole of Europe, no one knows what’s going to happen a few days from now. People need to do something to stop this because if it goes any further then it might be very bad for everyone.”

You can donate here to the Red Cross to help those affected by the conflict, or via a number of other ways through Choose Love.