POLITICS
05/09/2014 05:31 pm ET Updated May 12, 2014

Pussy Riot Visits Jailed Occupy Protester Cecily McMillan At Rikers Island

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Two punk rock musicians made famous by their time in Russian prisons visited another activist behind bars on Friday, this time in New York City.

Pussy Riot's Masha Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova visited Cecily McMillan, the Occupy Wall Street protester convicted Monday of second-degree assault for an incident in which she elbowed a New York City police officer. In an interview with HuffPost via a translator following their hours-long visit, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova said they believe there are similarities between their imprisonments and McMillan's.

"We got in prison for the exact same reason. We didn't want to accept charges," said Tolokonnikova. "To see someone this brave who is ready to serve a sentence which might be longer than ours is very incredible."

McMillan faces a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment when she is sentenced May 19. The two Pussy Riot members served a year and a half in Russian prisons after being convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" after a politically tinged guerrilla performance in a major Moscow cathedral.

Since their release in December, both Pussy Riot members have frequently made common cause with others behind bars.

McMillan's conviction spurred outrage among Occupy supporters, who believed her defense that she was reacting to an officer grabbing her breast. She was in New York's Zuccotti Park, the home of the Occupy movement, during a March 2012 protest when she was arrested. McMillan claimed she was not in the park to protest that day, but was instead meeting friends.

On Thursday, nine of the 12 jurors who convicted McMillan wrote to the judge who will decide her punishment, asking for leniency.

Alyokhina called McMillan "completely anti-fear."

"We really hope that America can show this anti-fear character, what she shows and demonstrates by her personality and character," said Alyokhina. "We hope Americans will show as much support to her case as the people in the United States did to us, when we were in prison."

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