Saturday, October 25, 2014


Russia

Pussy Riot Member May Resume Hunger Strike

Pussy Riot band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova attends a court hearing in Saransk, Mordovia, in July. (file photo)
Pussy Riot band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova attends a court hearing in Saransk, Mordovia, in July. (file photo)

Related Articles

Audio Podcast: Letters From The Gulag

Letters from prison have a long and storied history of carrying emotional power and moral weight in Russia -- and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's is no exception.
By RFE/RL
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a  jailed member of the Pussy Riot performance-art group, says she will resume a hunger strike if her demands are not met, amid concern for the state of her health.
 
In a statement made public on October 2 via her husband, Pyotr Verzilov, Tolokonnikova said her demands include an investigation into rights violations in her penal colony, the removal of "psychological pressure" on inmates in the colony who talked about penitentiary conditions to inspectors, and her transfer to another penitentiary.
 
Members of Russia's Presidential Council for Human Rights visited the penal colony in Russia's central republic of Mordovia where Tolokonnikova is serving her two-year jail term on October 1. They said Tolokonnikova's complaints regarding lengthy work shifts, miserable payment for work, and the existence of illegal prison disciplinarian groups made up of inmates loyal to the administration are true.
 
The council said it is urging officials to investigate.
 
Tolokonnikova was hospitalized on September 30, one week after she began a hunger strike to protest prison conditions and alleged death threats by a prison official.
 
The next day, Russia's ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, said Tolokonnikova had ended her hunger strike after Russia's federal agency supervising penitentiaries agreed to transfer her to another penal colony. There has been no confirmation of that.
 
But Tolokonnikova said in her statement that she had suspended her hunger strike due to her deteriorating health.
 
Ilya Ponomaryov, a Russian opposition lawmaker from A Just Russia party, visited Tolokonnikova in the prison hospital on October 2. He described her condition as very worrisome.
 
"During her hunger strike, she developed an infection and nobody can quite understand what it is," Ponomaryov said. "She looks like a person violently ill with chicken pox."
 
According to Ponomaryov, it will not be easy to transfer Tolokonnikova to another penitentiary in her current state.
 
"Her health condition is such that nobody would move her out of there," Ponomaryov said. "I talked to her doctors. They said that she was sure to be hospitalized for two months."

He said that taking into account that she has just five months left until her release from jail, it may be better to continue her medical treatment where she is now.

READ NEXT: Pussy Riot Members Say No Regrets For 'Punk Prayer'
 
Tolokonnikova and another Pussy Riot member, Maria Alyokhina, are serving two-year jail sentences after being convicted of hooliganism. They were arrested after staging a protest against President Vladimir Putin in an Orthodox cathedral in Moscow in February 2012.
 
With reporting by Lenta.ru, Reuters, and Interfax

Most Popular