De Blasio Proves He’s Comfortable Saying ‘Pussy Riot’

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot. (Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for CBGB)

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot. (Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for CBGB)

Mayor Bill de Blasio is set to welcome members of the band Pussy Riot to City Hall for a meet-and-greet this evening, and made clear this afternoon that he has no problem saying their name out loud.

“Can I say Pussy Riot?” he told reporters in response to one’s challenge, a wide grin across his face. “Yes I can.”

The comments came during a question-and-answer session when WABC reporter Dave Evans asked Mr. de Blasio about his upcoming meeting with “this band,” drawing laughs.

“What’s the name, Dave? What’s the name of the band?” teased the mayor. “Would someone else like to say the name of the band?”

The Russian feminist punk rock group became a household name after a handful of its members were arrested after performing in a Moscow cathedral to protest the policies of President Vladimir Putin. Two members of the band who wound up spending nearly two years in prison have been touring the city this week, appearing at a press conference and an Amnesty International concert.

Mr. de Blasio said he was pleased to also extend an invitation to City Hall.

“I am a tremendous admirer of what they’re doing. I think they are speaking up for human rights. They’re speaking out  against oppression and against the denial of the right to free speech. And their strength and resilience in the face of what they’ve gone through is truly inspirational to me,” said the mayor, who went on to say how touched he’d been by the interviews he’d seen of the women after their release.

“There was an incredibly admirable defiance that they basically made clear they would speak out even if it meant being imprisoned again,” he said. “And I just think, like so many people in New York, that that is an example to the whole world and I wanted to be supportive, and I wanted to let them know and people who care know that this is the kind of activists that we should be supporting.”