It is a story of ingenuity, cunning and farce that would have done credit to Mr. Toad, escaping his prison bondage by dressing as a washerwoman. Lucy Shtein, one of the members of the Russian protest art collective Pussy Riot, recently revealed how she managed to flee the country while dressed in the bright green attire of a food delivery company.

Along with her constant familiar Mr. Rat — a pet rodent who, as is often the way of these things, has become a social media breakout star — Shtein managed to leave her flat in...

It is a story of ingenuity, cunning and farce that would have done credit to Mr. Toad, escaping his prison bondage by dressing as a washerwoman. Lucy Shtein, one of the members of the Russian protest art collective Pussy Riot, recently revealed how she managed to flee the country while dressed in the bright green attire of a food delivery company.

Along with her constant familiar Mr. Rat — a pet rodent who, as is often the way of these things, has become a social media breakout star — Shtein managed to leave her flat in central Moscow, where she had been under house arrest for more than a year. Thanks to a series of collaborators and fellow subversives, she was smuggled out of Russia and has now arrived in Lithuania, where she is free to continue spreading her anti-Putin message to a sympathetic Western news media.

Shtein’s departure from a state where she was personally singled out as “a traitor who had sold out her country” is a personal and social deliverance. Shtein had been intimated by pro-Putin activists who were keen to denounce her as an unwanted subversive responsible for causing havoc, and, like many prudent guests who know that their time in another’s home has come to an end, decided to leave Russia for good.

As Putin was escalating his bombastic rhetoric of “national traitors” and “fifth columnists” before invading Ukraine, Shtein realized it would be impossible to change the system from within. As she told the Guardian, “For a long time I aspired to change things from within the country, but the war simply made that impossible. If I wouldn’t be able to continue any of my work in Russia, it didn’t make any sense for me to stay, just sitting around doing nothing.”

Pussy Riot have become an unlikely cause celebre for liberals and conservatives alike throughout the West since their foundation in August 2011. Their mixture of punk rock, anti-establishment ethos and attention-grabbing public stunts — most notably a February 2012 performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, which was condemned for sacrilege, despite or because of its heavily anti-Putin tone — are almost situationist in tone and execution. The members of the collective are also appropriately fluid in terms of sexuality and polyamory.

But just as Ai Weiwei has become a hero to conservatives because of his opposition to the communist regime in China, so do those who despise Putin’s brutality find unusual camaraderie with neocons who would like to see Russia brought under new management.

Shtein was lucky to escape without any lasting repercussions. In the hellhole state that Putin has created, thousands of artists, musicians and writers now face the unenviable choice of keeping quiet (or, worse, being complicit in the propaganda) or having even their basic human rights of freedom and movement taken away from them. Comparing Mad Vlad to Hitler is a lazy piece of shorthand that also proves that Godwin’s Law is alive and well, but it is undeniable that history seems to be repeating itself.

Those who prize any kind of artistic expression must look to Shtein. They should see her, and her fellow Pussy Rioters, as a particular kind of heroes, both sacred and profane, whose actions both inspire and amuse in their ballsy irreverence. Our world could do with more like them.