Europe

Pussy Riot woman moved to solitary cell over tensions

  • 23 November 2012
  • From the section Europe
Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, in court, 10 Oct 12
Maria Alyokhina (l) is reported to have asked for the transfer

Jailed member of Russian punk band Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina, has been transferred to solitary confinement because of tensions with other inmates.

She was moved to the cell of the Berezniki penal colony, east of Moscow, after refusing to join a hunger strike by other prisoners, her lawyer said.

The singer was jailed for two years in August for performing a crude anti-Kremlin song in Moscow's cathedral.

Another band member, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is also in jail.

The court's decision to sentence the women to two years each in remote prisons in eastern Russia was widely condemned.

Alyokhina, 24, was sent to a prison colony near the city of Perm, while Tolokonnikova is serving her sentence in Mordovia.

'Punk prayer'

Alyokhina was moved to the solitary cell after other inmates started behaving aggressively towards her, Tolokonnikova's husband Petr Verzilov quoted Alyokhina's lawyer as saying.

He said the prison authorities had suggested the transfer and Alyokhina had agreed.

Tolokonnikova in detention in Mordovia (image from 14 Nov 2012)
Conditions at both prisons are described as harsh

The cell is located in the so-called "punishment block" of the prison, but Alyokhina was not being kept in "the punishment mode", he added.

Earlier, a prison service spokeswoman said: "Some tensions arose in relationships and, apparently, to prevent this situation from escalating, she decided to submit a request to the prison leadership and they moved her to a one-person cell."

It was not immediately clear why other inmates at the Bereziniki penal colony, some 715 miles (1,150km) north-east of Moscow, were planning to stage a hunger strike.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova, 22, were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" over the obscenity-laced "punk prayer" against current President Vladimir Putin which they performed in Moscow's main cathedral, Christ the Saviour, on 21 February.

On 10 October the two women lost their appeal against the sentence, but a third band member - Yekaterina Samutsevich - was freed with a suspended jail sentence.

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