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Berlin: Pussy Riot Members Mulling Hollywood Film Offers

Pussy Riot on Colbert Report - H 2014
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Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolonnikova interviewed on television

UPDATED: Nadezhda Tolonnikova and Maria Alyokhina revealed that they have been pitched film projects by "several sources" and joked that the movie will be like "Star Wars."

BERLIN – Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolonnikova and Maria Alyoshina say they have been receiving offers for a Hollywood film based on their story, but the duo declined to reveal what studios have been pitching them.  

The two young Russian women flew into Berlin Monday after visiting New York to promote their new prison rights foundation, where they played a gig with Madonna. Appearing at a press conference in Berlin, they said they have received "several offers" for film projects, but won't reveal more until a deal is confirmed. 

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"We have some offers but we cannot say from whom, nothing is agreed," Tolonnikova said in response to a question from The Hollywood Reporter.

When pressed, she giggled and added: "It's like Star Wars!"

Asked if she meant to suggest George Lucas is involved, she added: "Sorry, we have some offers but we cannot say anything at the moment.

Her comments came Monday at a Cinema For Peace press conference at Berlin's Regent Hotel, where the young women were flanked by Kweku Mandela, the grandson of the former South African president Nelson Mandela who died in December, and Bianca Jagger, a European Council and Cinema for Peace Goodwill Ambassador.

The Russian women, who will attend a gala screening in Berlin tonight of Mike Lerner's documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, slammed the lack of respect for human rights in their country, dubbed the amnesty under which they were freed in December “a fake” used by President Vladimir Putin to “polish his image,” and criticized the anti-gay laws that have caused international condemnation.

Both looking calm but tired, Tolonnikova dressed in a smart navy jacket with gold epaulettes, and Alyokhina in a black jacket and white top. The two women spoke after short introductions by Mandela – who is screening at Cinema for Peace extracts from his upcoming documentary about his grandfather – and Jagger.

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They said Russian authorities are harassing and intimidating people who are helping them set up a their new prisoners rights organization, Zona Prava (Rights Zone).

“Anyone related to this organization are put under pressure; everyone involved is kept under watch and constantly invited to police stations to be interviewed -- where they are threatened with further trouble if they continue this work,” Tolonnikova said.

The pair spoke out against Russia's anti-gay laws, saying that Putin's excuse that the laws are there to protect children is another lie.

“Every time there is crisis in society the government tries to find a guilty party to blame for it,” Alyokhina said. “That is weak power, a power that is not able to admit fault. This kind of power is what we see in President Putin.”

The women said they had no plans to run for president themselves, but said they might seek elected office in Moscow, where they live.

“We were not in prison for 26 years and unlike Nelson Mandela, I don't think we shall run for president, but the Moscow city government, yes, that's worth a try,” Tolonnikova said, with Alyokhina nodding in agreement.

The two said they would consider working with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia's wealthiest man, released a few days before they were after serving most of his 10-year sentence for theft and fraud.

Khodorkovsky, whose freedom was brokered by former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher just before Christmas, was flown to Berlin where he told the press that he would not return to Russia but would work to help improve conditions for inmates in Russian jails.

He also advised the Pussy Riot women not to be embittered by their time in jail.

And they praised the courage of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, saying they felt “close to him,” but criticized National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, who was given asylum in Russia, for working with the Kremlin.

Snowden lived in an apartment provided by the FSB (Federal Security Service, the successor body to the Soviet-era KGB), they claimed.

“Snowden is now being very well cared for by the Russian system,” Tolokonnikova said.