“I’d like to thank Pussy Riot,” Madonna said, “for making the word ‘pussy’ a sacred word in my household.”

She was speaking from the stage of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, introducing two members of that Russian activist group, who had recently emerged from prison not just outspoken women and critics of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, but global symbols of rebellion. On Wednesday night, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were two of the main attractions at a benefit concert for Amnesty International, where the musical stars included Blondie, Tegan and Sara, Imagine Dragons and the Flaming Lips, and the message was one of supporting human rights.

Madonna did not perform, but, in head-to-toe black, read from a long statement to welcome Ms. Tolokonnikova and Ms. Alyokhina, known to their fans as Nadya and Masha.

“It’s not a coincidence that I was on tour and that I happened to be in Moscow the day that Pussy Riot went on trial,” Madonna said, because she had been horrified to hear of their 2012 arrest, on charges of hooliganism, for performing an anti-Putin song in a Moscow cathedral. She added that she had been threatened with arrest herself, for performances in Russia that were said to promote “gay behavior.”

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