Two Pussy Riot members granted asylum in Sweden

Two members of Russian feminist protest punk rock group Pussy Riot (pictured April 13, 2019) initially lodged asylum claims in Sweden in 2017, citing harassment and death threats in Russia as a result of their direct action and anti-government concerts (AFP Photo/Pablo PORCIUNCULA BRUNE)

Stockholm (AFP) - Sweden on Tuesday granted political asylum to two activist members of the Russian protest collective Pussy Riot who had feared being arrested if they had returned to Moscow, Swedish public television SVT reported.

The pair, Lusine Djanyan and Alexey Knedlyakovsky, parents of two children, initially lodged asylum claims in 2017 , citing harassment and death threats in Russia as a result of their direct action and anti-government concerts.

These claims were rejected by Sweden's immigration office but the couple appealed the decision.

"I am very happy that my children will be able to grow up in security, in particular in view of what has been going on (in Russia)" Djanyan told SVT after the immigration tribunal granted their asylum appeal.

The anarchist Pussy Riot collective -- often decked out in neon balaclavas and tights -- made its name with politically-charged performances, lambasting everything from the Russian church to the persecution of the country's gay community.

In 2016, Knedlyakovsky was jailed for 15 days after hanging a cross on a statue depicting the head of the Russian FSB security service.

In August 2012, three Pussy Riot members were sentenced to two years in a prison colony for "hooliganism and religious hatred" for performing a song protesting against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a central Moscow church.

Last year, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Russia over its treatment of the protest group in 2012.