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Court Denies Parole To Pussy Riot Member

  • RFE/RL

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova looks out from a holding cell during a court hearing in the town of Zubova Polyana on April 26.

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova looks out from a holding cell during a court hearing in the town of Zubova Polyana on April 26.

A court in the Russian region of Mordovia has denied a request for parole from Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of two jailed members of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot.

Judge Lidiya Yakovleva said in a district court in Zubova Polyana on April 26 that she agrred with the prison authorities’ assessment that releasing Tolokonnikova would be "premature." She also added that the court found "the arguments of the defense unsound."

The administration of the prison, where the 23-year-old Tolokonnikova is jailed, had asked the court beforehand to reject the parole request.

Prison officials filed a statement saying she had been cited for prison rules violations and expressed no remorse.

Tolokonnikova, wearing a green prison garb, silently stood in her courtroom metal cage as the decision was read at the end of a daylong court session.

The judge announced her verdict after taking about an hour-and-a-half to deliberate and failing to give the defense a chance for a final argument.

The decision was met with some cries of "Shame!" from the audience, which included her husband and father, as well as many journalists and supporters who came from Moscow.

Tolokonnikova earlier told the court that she has "spent enough time in the prison camp... six months is time enough."

Her lawyer Irina Khrunova argued that her 5-year-old daughter, Gera, needed her mother.

Khrunova said, "She has a family, a child. Her daughter misses her mother. The family must be reunited as soon as possible to allow the child to develop properly."

One of the arguments against her parole was her lack of participation in prison activities, such as the Miss Charm Prison Camp 14 beauty contest.

A second Pussy Riot member, Maria Alyokhina, is serving her term in the Perm region.

Both members are serving two-year prison terms after being convicted in August for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred."

The convictions followed the group’s performance of a "punk prayer" at a Moscow cathedral protesting Russian leader Vladimir Putin's close links with the Russian Orthodox Church.

A third member of the group who was convicted over the performance, Yekaterina Samutsevich, received a suspended sentence.

The 2012 trial of the provocative feminist band members garnered worldwide attention, with stars such as Madonna, Sting, and Yoko Ono voicing their support.

With reporting by Interfax, AFP, and Russia Today
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