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Former Pussy Riot members launch independent Russian news service

Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina might not be part of Pussy Riot anymore, but they have made good on their promise to shine a light on the shocking conditions they and many other political prisoners have experienced in the Russian prison system. They just launched MediaZona, an independent, Russian-language (although you can always run it through Google Translator) website focused on human rights abuses in the Russian courts and prison system.

Veteran Russian political and social news editor Sergey Smirnov has been hired as editor-in-chief, with veterans of The New York Times and the Russian-language news sites Russkaya Planeta and Gazeta.ru on the reporting staff. Tolokonnikova says that the site will play a vital role in a media landscape where journalists are afraid to speak out against Putin’s regime, while Alekhina adds:

“There [are] hardly any political issues left in Russia outside of courtrooms - and there is a great need for transparency and media coverage of things that are happening down there, so we hope that Mediazona will help close that gap and change the face of independent Russian media.”

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A lofty goal, perhaps, but the women of Pussy Riot have never been known to back down from a challenge.

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