WASHINGTON — Two members of the Russian dissident punk group Pussy Riot came to the Capitol on Tuesday and asked members of Congress to add 16 officials to the list of Russian human rights violators who face U.S. sanctions.

Before a throng of cameras and reporters, the women – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina – said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on human rights was damaging that country.

“Putin is not leading Russia to stability, but to complete instability and chaos,” Tolokonnikova said through a translator.

The pair was arrested in 2012 after an obscenity-laced performance criticizing Putin at Moscow’s main cathedral. They spent nearly two years in prison, but since their release have continued decrying the lack of freedom in Russia and harsh government tactics against opponents.

The women said Russia has resumed abusing prisoners, including using mandatory psychiatric treatment for some. They said they hoped public pressure would force the mistreatment to stop.

“Silence is the most dangerous thing for a political prisoner,” said Tolokonnikova.

By law, the United States can freeze assets and ban travel to the U.S. of Russians deemed to be human rights abusers. Currently, 18 Russians are on a public list of people facing such sanctions while an unknown number of others are on a confidential list.

The two met for a half-hour with a group of lawmakers, including Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., chair of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, which monitors human rights in dozens of countries.