People in the Arts

Pussy Riot joins the Life Is Beautiful speaker lineup

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Pussy Riot was attacked by Cossack militiamen in Sochi in February.
Photo: Morry Gash/AP Photo

Two founding members of feminist punk group Pussy Riot will come to Las Vegas for the Life Is Beautiful Festival in October to discuss activism and prisoners’ rights.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who gained international attention when they were arrested and jailed for their anti-Putin protest in a Russian Orthodox church, will speak as part of "The Good, the Bad and the Gray" talks during the three-day festival designed as an inspirational event.

Pussy Riot at the Capitol in Washington D.C. in May discussing human rights violations in Ukraine.

Pussy Riot at the Capitol in Washington D.C. in May discussing human rights violations in Ukraine.

“Besides being the most perfect alignment in politics and music, they are the epitome of finding your authentic voice and standing up for what you believe,” says Erin Booth, head of speaker relations for the Life Is Beautiful Learning Series, adding that she spent eight weeks trying to secure them for the festival.

The controversial Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina (who were beaten during the Sochi Olympics in February by the Cossack militia while attempting to record a protest video) recently founded the prisoners’ rights organization Zona Prava and are the 2014 recipients of the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought.

Nearly 40 speakers will participate in nine themed sessions during Life Is Beautiful, and Tolokonnikova’s and Alyokhina’s 30-minute talk (translated by Petya (Pyotr) Verzilov) will be part of a series focusing on the “relationship of power and people” and the delivery of justice “from Wall Street to Ferguson.”

Oscar Goodman, former Las Vegas mayor and mob attorney, and Ed Gavagan, a victim of random gang violence (he was stabbed on the streets of New York and left to die) who went on to forgive his attackers, are also part of "The Good, the Bad and the Gray" category.

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