Maria Vladimirovna Alyokhina (born June 6, 1988) is a Russian political activist.
She is a member of the anti-Putinist punk rock group Pussy Riot. On August 17, 2012, she was convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” for a performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. She has been recognized as a political prisoner by the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners. Amnesty International named her a prisoner of conscience due to “the severity of the response of the Russian authorities.”
At the time of her arrest, Alyokhina was a fourth-year student at the Institute of Journalism and Creative Writing in Moscow, where she participated in the literature courses of Dmitry Vedenyapin and Alexey Kubrik. She is a published poet. She has been involved in environmental activism with Greenpeace Russia, opposing development projects in the Khimki Forest, and was a volunteer at the Children’s Psychiatric Hospital in Moscow. Her son Filip was born in 2008. She is a vegan and reportedly collapsed from hunger during the trial, as no vegan meals were provided in detention.
She played an active role in the Pussy Riot trial, cross-examining witnesses, and aggressively questioning the charges and proceedings. She said in her closing statement:
For me, this trial only has the status of a “so-called” trial. And I am not afraid of you. I am not afraid of lies and fiction, of the thinly disguised fraud in the sentence of this so-called court. Because you can only take away my so-called freedom. And that is the exact kind that exists now in Russia. But nobody can take away my inner freedom.
Alyokhina was released from prison on December 23, 2013 under an amnesty bill passed by the Russian Duma, allowing the release of several inmates. Following her release, Alyokhina and fellow Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova announced their intention to campaign for prisoner’s rights in Russia.On 6 March 2014, she was assaulted and injured at a fast food outlet by local youths in Nizhny Novgorod.