Yekaterina (Katia) Samutsevich

Yekaterina (Katia) Samutsevich – A co-founder of Pussy Riot in 2011, Samutsevich, 30, is a computer programmer and graduate of the Rodchenko School of Photography and Multimedia in Moscow. For two years, she worked for a defense contractor on a secret project developing software for a nuclear submarine. The Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners recognized her as a political prisoner after her arrest and Amnesty International named her a prisoner of conscience due to “the severity of the Russian authorities.”

Peter Verzilov

Peter Verzilov –  As the most visible spokesperson for the imprisoned women and the husband of Nadia Tolokonnikova, Verzilov says he is a member of the political performing art group, Voina. He has been arrested and released for past performances. Putin referred to a video of the couple having sex in a protest as a reason Tolokonnikova deserved to be punished. She was nine months pregnant at the time.  Their daughter, Gera, is now 4 years old and is in the care of Verzilov and his family.

Masha Gessen

Masha GessenA journalist who has covered Russia for years, she watched the rise of Russian President Vladimir Putin with growing concern.  Her recently published book, The Man Without a Face – The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin is a chilling account of the president’s iron grip on this monolithic country.  Gessen was born and educated in Russia and is currently director of Radio Liberty’s Russian Service.  She has contributed to Vanity Fair, The New Republic, Slate and the New York Times, among other publications.

Yana Yakovleva

Yana Yakovleva – A co-owner of a chemical company, Yakovleva was arrested and spent seven months in prison on drug charges. Her story is an amazing one. Police approached her and asked her sell and ship a solvent used to process heroin. She refused. A few weeks later different police officers arrested her for drug trafficking after the solvent was placed on an illegal drug list. She was released after her parents, friends and international attention exerted pressure on the system.