Political News

Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova: American media gives Putin too much credit

Posted July 16, 2018 6:38 p.m. EDT

— Pussy Riot's Nadya Tolokonnikova on Monday said Russian President Vladimir Putin's authoritarian rule is actually less organized and effective than typically portrayed by the American media, despite his highly publicized summit with US President Donald Trump.

Tolokonnikova, who is a member of the Russian punk band and activist group Pussy Riot, was imprisoned by the Russian government for two years along with another member of the group beginning in 2012 for performing an an anti-Putin protest song called "Punk Prayer" in a Moscow cathedral.

Wearing a mask for "artistic as well as security reasons," Tolokonnikova told CNN's Anderson Cooper that the Putin government is mostly full of kleptocrats interested in increasing their own wealth.

"American media gives too much credit to President Putin and his fellows because you perceive them as an organized unit," she said during the premiere episode of CNN's Anderson Cooper Full Circle on Facebook Watch. "Well they are not effective. In fact they are a bunch of people who care mostly about their money ... they are just not effective."

Speaking with Cooper on Monday, she went on to cite the weakened Russian economy as proof of the government's incompetence, and suggested that if she had attempted to interfere with the American elections, she might have been able to accomplish more than the Russian intelligence services.

"If you take a look at the Russian economy you will see they are not effective," she said. "I am not saying that they didn't interfere in your elections. They did. They might have done it better. Like if I would have (laughs) this goal to make it better, I would do it better."

Reflecting on the friendly words exchanged by the two leaders earlier in the day, the Russian activist said she did not give much credence to what was said.

"They just met each other," she told Cooper, who was anchoring the show from Helsinki where he had been covering the meeting. "They said stupid things to each other, and personally for me it was pretty disturbing to hear Trump's statement about Putin, that he's completely innocent about interfering in the American elections."

"If I would be President Trump I would try consider what my intelligence services are giving to me, because otherwise he's not running the country, he's just being an idiot."

Pussy Riot was in the news again Sunday after they claimed responsibility for a group of protesters who took the field during the final World Cup match in Moscow, indicating in a statement that the field invasion was staged to bring attention to political injustices in Russia.

Minutes into the game's second half, four protesters dressed as policemen ran onto the field at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, interrupting play.

Security personnel jumped into action and began removing the protesters -- but not before one of them managed to get a double-handed high-five from France's 19-year-old star Kylian Mbappe.

Tolokonnikova also expressed disappointment that Trump did not take the opportunity to bring up ongoing civil rights violations.

"Honestly, I think he would have to ask about people who are detained today in Russia," she said. "For example about civil rights activists who were detained ... who faced arrest ... just because they made an action on the field," she said, apparently referring to Sunday's World Cup protest.