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Convicted Pussy Riot member announces hunger strike

Tolokonnikova requested transfer to another detachment, threatened to file complaints accusing of being threatened otherwise
Photo ITAR-TASS/ Stanislav Krasilnikov
Photo ITAR-TASS/ Stanislav Krasilnikov

MOSCOW, September 23. (Itar-Tass) - Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Pussy Riot member currently serving time in a penal colony, has complained about threat to her life, reportedly due to refusal to transfer her to another detachment.  

A representative of the Mordovia office of the Federal Penitentiary Service told Itar-Tass that September 17 Yuri Kupriyanov, deputy head of the penitentiary colony, was approached by Tolokonnikova’s husband Petr Verzilov and her attorney Irina Khrunova when the official was leaving the colony.

“During the conversation they asked for Tolokonnikova to be transferred to another detachment in order to be employed at an arts studio. Otherwise the Investigative Committee, Prosecutor General’s Office, Federal Penitentiary Service and the media will receive claims that Kupriyanov threatens Tolokonnikova with bodily harm and murder,” the Service said, adding that deputy head of the colony was shown these claims.

Deputy head of the colony, responsible for security and operative work, said that employment issues of inmates is not something he controls – the decision to transfer someone is made by a special commission. Kupriyanov refused to give in to the demands and filed a report on solicitation to commit official power abuse (by creation of favorable conditions to Tolokonnikova).

“September 23 Tolokonnikova was present at breakfast. Announcement of a hunger strike was made at 11:45am,” the Penitentiary Service said, adding that Tolokonnikova is located at the colony with clothing manufacture being the primary production process; that’s where the majority of inmates are employed at. Work at the industrial zone is organized in two shifts – from 8am to 4pm and from 4:30pm to 0:30am, with a lunch break. Tolokonnikova works the first shift. Output quota is the same for all inmates working in clothing manufacture; there are no special requirements for Tolokonnikova. “An audit will be conducted due to this situation,” the representative of the Penitentiary Service concluded.

In August, Defendants of the Pussy Riot punk bank requested changing the sentence for Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina to penal labor instead of penal colony.

On August 17, 2012, Moscow’s Khamovniki court sentenced three members of Pussy Riot - Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich - to two years in a prison colony on charges of hooliganism aimed at inciting religious hatred after their punk prayer in Moscow’s Christ Savior Cathedral. On October 10, 2012, the third woman was released on appeal.

The sentence for other two members of the band remained unchanged. Alyokhina is serving her sentence in Nizhny Novgorod Region and Tolokonnikova - in the Republic of Mordovia.