- Associated Press - Friday, February 7, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has welcomed the Russian protest punk band Pussy Riot to City Hall.

Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are on a tour of New York and visited City Hall late Friday afternoon.

De Blasio, his wife Chirlane McCray and the musicians visited for about 30 minutes. A spokeswoman says the mayor commended them for “their bravery and courage.”

The two were released in December after nearly two years in jail. They were convicted of hooliganism after they staged a protest in a Russian church.

The women have also appeared on the talk show “The Colbert Report” and at an Amnesty International concert in Brooklyn. While on tour, they have been critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin and political conditions in their homeland.

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