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Russian Activists Visit Purchase College To Discuss Prison Conditions

Maria Alyokhina, left, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova visit Purchase College.
Maria Alyokhina, left, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova visit Purchase College. Photo Credit: Courtesy Kristi McKee

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Russian political activists Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, former members of the Moscow-based punk rock protest group Pussy Riot, recently visited Purchase College.

They visited the college on Feb. 7 to meet with Suzanne Kessler, dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who also serves as chair of the board for Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA), an organization that brings innovative arts programs to five prisons in New York state.

The meeting was arranged for the two political activists to discuss prison conditions in Russia and the United States with Kessler and members of RTA.

While the meeting was not publicized or open to the press, Allee Manning, a Purchase senior majoring in journalism and gender studies, was invited by the journalism program to cover the event exclusively for The Purchase Beat. Manning said in her story “Pussy Riot: An Under the Radar Visit to Purchase,” that the  activists "have refocused their attention on Russian prison reform since their 21-month jail sentences ended on Dec. 23, 2013," according to a release.

“I had been following their story since we discussed the trial in a journalism class called ‘Covering the Arts’ with Professor Andrew Salomon, who founded The Purchase Beat, and who serves as a faculty advisor,” said Manning. Salomon, along with Ross Daly, a journalism professor at Purchase, who serves as chair of the School of Humanities, encouraged Manning to cover the Pussy Riot meeting.

“From the time I started in the journalism program at Purchase College, professors have said that we will cover important people and events someday,” Manning said. “It’s exciting that it has happened sooner than expected.”

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