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HONG KONG: Members of Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot joined Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigners on Saturday to defend freedom of expression as Beijing tightens its grip on the semi-autonomous city.

Two members of the Russian group spoke alongside leading Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong at a panel discussion that had been due to accompany the launch of a highly anticipated art show by Chinese political cartoonist Badiucao.

That show was cancelled on Friday with Hong Kong organisers citing safety concerns due to “threats made by Chinese authorities relating to the artist”.

“We are very sorry to know that things are getting worse here. I think it is very important to be here now just to express our solidarity,” Pussy Riot member Olga Kuracheva said during the packed panel discussion on freedom of art and expression, held at a studio in Hong Kong.

Kuracheva and fellow Pussy Riot member Veronika Nikulshina said threats to exhibitions and political art events are “common practice” in Russia.

Kuracheva encouraged people to speak out against suppression. “I would advise people not to be afraid, because one voice is not so much ... but voices of solidarity should sound loud.”

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2018

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