De Blasio says Pussy Riot is ‘truly inspirational’

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Pussy Riot. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
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Mayor Bill de Blasio said today he admires the members of the Russian rock band Pussy Riot.

"I am a tremendous admirer of what they're doing," said de Blasio, who is scheduled to meet with the band at City Hall this afternoon. "I think they're speaking up for human rights, they're speaking out against oppression, and against the denial of the right to free speech."

The band's three members were imprisoned in their native Russia after being convicted of hooliganism, following a protest performance inside a church that opposed the policies of President Vladimir Putin.

"Their strength and resilience in the face of what they've gone through is truly inspirational to me," said de Blasio. 

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Two of the band's members, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, are currently on an international tour that includes stops in Europe and Asia. They played a benefit concert for Amnesty International at the Barclays Center earlier this week, and also met with the New York Times' editorial board.

De Blasio said the band's protest against human rights violation in their country is "an example to the whole world, and I wanted to be supportive."