Two Members of Pussy Riot to Receive Icelandic Citizenship Skip to content
Photo: Golli.

Two Members of Pussy Riot to Receive Icelandic Citizenship

Maria Alyokhina and Lucy Shtein, members of the performance and activist group Pussy Riot, are among the 18 individuals that the Judicial Affairs and Education Committee has put forth as candidates to receive Icelandic citizenship, RÚV reports. The list also includes five Russian nationals.

A consensus to grant citizenship

Icelandic citizenship is granted in one of two ways. One, the standard process, whereby citizenship is granted through residence and application. Two, by parliamentary decree. The second route is, generally speaking, only available to individuals in extenuating circumstances, although critics, such as Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson, have observed that these special applications constitute “too large a proportion of Icelandic naturalisations.”

This year, the Judicial Affairs and Education Committee has put forth a list of 18 individuals as candidates for Icelandic citizenship via parliamentary decree (these applications are invariably approved). Ninety-four applied, five of whom are from Russia.

Among the list of proposed candidates are Maria Alyokhina and Lucy Shtein, members of the performance art and activist group Pussy Riot. As noted by RÚV, Alyokhina made a narrow escape from Russia in May of last year, with rumours that Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson had aided her on the run (he was said to have received an unnamed European country to issue a travel document.) Iceland Review spoke to Maria Alyokhina last year.

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Lucy Shtein fled Moscow in March of last year after being under house arrest for over a year. “I realised that I could no longer stay in Russia,” Shtein noted in an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian. She managed to escape to Lithuania by disguising herself as a courier.

Bryndís Haraldsdóttir, Chair of the Judicial Affairs and Education Committee, stated that a consensus existed among committee members to grant Icelandic citizenship to the two members of Pussy Riot. That decision can well be seen as a political statement, given that the group strongly protested the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “The Icelandic government has been willing to criticise Russia’s actions,” Bryndís remarked.

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