Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova is an artist and political activist.
Born in Norilsk in the Soviet Union in 1989, Tolokonnikova is best known for her involvement with Pussy Riot, a punk rock group, which challenges authoritarianism in Russia through art, music, and protest performances.
In 2012, when Tolokonnikova was only 22 years old, she and fellow Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina were sentenced two years in prison after criticizing Vladimir Putin through a “punk prayer” performance, which denounced the Orthodox Church for its alleged support of Putin. Tolokonnikova went on a nine-day hunger strike to protest her imprisonment, for which she was hospitalized. Amnesty International named her a prisoner of conscience due to “the severity of the response of the Russian authorities.” She was finally released on amnesty in December 2013.
Since her release, she has inspired the world and established herself as a crusader for human rights, feminism, freedom of speech, and criminal justice reform.
Tolokonnikova has spoken about international human rights abuses and challenging authoritarianism in front of the US Congress and British Parliament. In 2014, she won the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought alongside her fellow Pussy Riot member, Maria Alyokhina.
Tolokonnikova is also a Lennon Ono Grant for Peace recipient, and most recently, she appeared as herself on House of Cards.
Tolokonnikova was a Counsellor at One Young World Summit: 2015 in Bangkok.