UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power traded jibes with Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin on Wednesday over her meeting with two members of the Russian protest punk band Pussy Riot who were recently freed from prison.
Power tweeted that she met "some brave 'troublemakers'" who discussed their time in jail.
"I asked Pussy Riot if they were afraid of prison. Response: No. In prison we could see the terrible conditions. It's human rights fieldwork," Power added.
Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were released in December after nearly two years in prison following a conviction for hooliganism for staging a protest in a Russian church, wearing balaclavas and screaming lyrics.
They came to the United States to participate in Amnesty International's "Bringing Human Rights Home" concert on Wednesday in Brooklyn where they were to be introduced by Madonna.
When Churkin was asked about Power's meeting with Pussy Riot at a news conference late Wednesday, he quipped: "She has not joined the band?"
As the journalists burst into laughter, he said: "I would expect her to invite them to perform in the National Cathedral in Washington. This is my expectation. Maybe they arrange a world tour for them — St. Peter's cathedral in Rome, then maybe in Mecca in Saudi Arabia and end up with a gala concert at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem."
"If ambassador Power fell short, I would be disappointed," Churkin added.
After hearing his comments, Power tweeted: "Ambassador Churkin. I'd be honored to go on tour with Pussy Riot — a group of girls who speak up & stand for human rights. Will you join us?"
"I can't sing, but if Pussy Riot will have me, Amb Churkin, I say our 1st concert is for Russia's pol. prisoners," she added.