By Mahita Gajanan
February 21, 2017

Nadya Tolokonnikova, co-founder of the Russian punk collective Pussy Riot, is no stranger to resisting authoritarian figures. On Feb. 21, 2012, members of the group were kicked out of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior for performing a “punk prayer” against Vladimir Putin. Tolokonnikova and bandmate Maria Alyokhina were later arrested and charged with hooliganism. Their two year imprisonment shot the group to global fame and they became a symbol for the opposition movement.

Five years after the infamous arrest, Tolokonnikova, still working hard to resist oppression, had a wealth of advice for the rapidly mobilizing movement aiming to resist President Donald Trump.

Protests against Trump, organized by people who say he campaigned for office on a platform that promoted bigotry, racism and sexism, began after his Jan. 20 inauguration and haven’t stopped since, as scandals and legal challenges rock the White House nearly every day. The large number of people speaking out against the Trump have emboldened Tolokonnikova, who spoke to TIME while in New York working on a music short film. Action from “all sorts of groups of people,” will carry the resistance, she said just before the five-year anniversary of her Moscow arrest.

“I don’t believe we need to wait until a beautiful leader will come save us,” she said, arguing that during the 2016 election, many thought Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders would do all the work for them. “That’s the reason we ended up right now, in Russia and the US, in this situation, when you expect someone to fight for your rights. In order to achieve political revolution, you need to make your own hands dirty.”

To be effective, Tolokonnikova said those acting against Trump have to “still be surprised every day.”

“It is our duty to not treat thing which are dangerous and awful as normal, even though they are happening every day in our lives. It is hard,” she said. “I’ve been in this environment for years — you wake up and a friend is beaten, or another amendment happened and no one cares about that.”

A real change has to come about among all humans, she said. The fact that humanity has only one home — Earth — is what keeps Tolokonnikova fighting, despite the very real threats posed against her every day. Global inequality and climate change are among the problems people cannot run away from, she said.

“See all these challenges, but see them not as problems that are here to destroy you,” she said. “You should be inspired by them. You can commit suicide — that’s an option — or you can fight.”

According to Tolokonnikova, the next four years of Trump’s presidency provides time for people to “shape an alternative vision of how government should work in the future” and invent a new model for running the country. She also warned against writing off those who voted for Trump, and instead advocated for communicating with voters who had previously felt cut off.

“People who voted this way have their point, and sometimes it can by ugly, terrible,” she said. “But they’re desperate. Sometimes desperate people, they kill each other.”

Write to Mahita Gajanan at mahita.gajanan@time.com.

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