Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

If an appearance on The Colbert Report is a measure of success, then Pussy Riot has arrived.

Fresh out of prison, Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, two members of the Russian punk protest group, were in New York last week for a whirlwind tour. After winning over Colbert and his audience, the duo spoke at Wednesday’s all-star Amnesty International concert at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, where they were introduced by no less than Madonna.

It was quite a shift from the last “stage” the women appeared on together: a Moscow church in 2012, where Pussy Riot put on a protest performance and were subsequently arrested and imprisoned for “hooliganism.” They were released as the Winter Olympics approached and have since been quite public in their criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The real story, however, isn’t their vocal, vehement opposition to Putin. It’s what they’re doing with their freedom. The women have been on an international journey of sorts— not to “breathe fresh air and enjoy ourselves” but to visit prisons in other countries and bring what they learn back to Russia.

Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.