Push Riot leader fled Russia disguised as a food courier to evade authorities.

  • The leader of Russian performance group Push Riot escaped Russia disguised as a food delivery service.
  • Maria Alyokina said New York Times About how she escaped Russia and Belarus to Lithuania.
  • “It doesn’t matter where you are as long as your mind is free,” she told the outlet.

The leader of Push Riot, a Russian feminist performance and protest group that has long been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin, fled Russia disguised as a food delivery man to evade authorities.

Maria Alyokina said New York Times After crossing into Lithuania after a week-long journey that involved spy-like tricks and multiple attempts to cross the border.

“A lot of magic happened last week,” she told The Times. “It’s like a spy novel.”

Alyokhina is no stranger to Russia’s crackdown on freedom of the press. The activist has been imprisoned several times after using punk music to ridicule the corrupt relationship between the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church in the years following the explosion of the Push Riot a decade ago.

But Russia’s relentless attempts to silence Alyokina (she has been imprisoned six times since last summer, according to The Times) did little to contain the actions of her and her groupmates. Alyokhina told outlets that she did her best to remain in Russia, despite continued scrutiny by authorities, until she invaded Ukraine in February.

Alyokhina said she was sitting in prison when she heard Putin’s speech on February 21 that would ultimately set the stage for an all-out war.

“I don’t think Russia has the right to exist anymore,” she told The Times. “In the past, there were questions about how we came together, what values ​​we got together and where we went, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore,” she said.

Just months after Russia’s invasion of Russia, Putin has stepped up his efforts to crack down on opponents of the Ukrainian civil war. Alyokhina’s pending house arrest was diverted from prison for 21 days, and she told the outlet to try to escape and make a decision.

In an interview with The Times, she described the steps she took to escape, including disguising herself as a food delivery man to bypass Moscow police stationed outside a friend’s apartment where she was staying. She left without a cell phone for fear of being pursued.

One of her friends drove her to the Belarusian border, she told the newspaper. She was imprisoned in a Russian-friendly country for a week before entering Lithuania. She was already on Russia’s “wanted” list and she avoided hotels or places where identification was required, she said. On her third attempt, she was finally able to cross to Lithuania, she told the outlet.

Alyokina said she was “happy to be able to do it” because it was a blow to the Russian authorities. “I still don’t fully understand what I did.”

Other members of the Push Riot group have also joined Alyokina, Lithuania, as part of the growing mass migration of Russians, the media reported. The group will perform in Berlin later this week as part of a European tour to raise money for Ukraine.

Alyokhina said she hopes to return to her native Russia someday. However, it seems unlikely that it will happen anytime soon.

“It doesn’t matter where you are as long as your mind is free,” she told the outlet.

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