AP is reporting that Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have officially been released from prison, following an amnesty approved by Russian president Vladimir Putin. The two members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot were imprisoned in 2012 for staging a protest performance at a Moscow church.
Their story, and particularly that of Tolokonnikova, who went on two hunger strikes before going missing for several weeks in the course of a transfer, has drawn international attention to both the injustice of their imprisonment and also to the conditions of Russia’s prison system.
The amnesty for the prisoners (a number of unrelated prisoners were also released) is widely viewed as a public relations move in advance of Russia’s hosting of the upcoming Winter Olympics. The newly-released punk rockers made it clear that they share this view.
I think this is an attempt to improve the image of the current government, a little, before the Sochi Olympics”particularly for the Western Europeans, Alyokhina said. But I don’t consider this humane or merciful. This is a lie. We didn’t ask for any pardon. I would have sat here until the end of my sentence because I don’t need mercy from Putin.
She said she would have refused the amnesty and stayed in prison if she’d had the choice.
More like this:
Pussy Riot Members Receive Amnesty, Will Go Free
Pussy Riot Member Reportedly In Serious Condition, Family Denied Access
Pussy Riot Declared Guilty Of Hooliganism, Receive Two Years In Prison, Remain Punk As Hell
Though perviously assured by Russian prison officials that they would be informed of her whereabouts within 10 days of her transfer, the family of punk activist Nadezhda (Nadia) Tolokonnikova has still not had any contact with her, 17 days later. They believe she may be moved to a penal colony in Siberia.
To recap, months after her arrest and imprisonment for an illegal protest inside a Moscow church with her band, Pussy Riot, Tolokonnikova began a hunger strike to protest human rights violations she said were taking place in her original prison. She was moved to a hospital and then again to prison, where she either began or threatened another such strike. She was apparently then granted the transfer she had been petitioning for, but has now gone missing.
Tolokonnikova’s husband, Peter Verzilov, told Rolling Stone that an unnamed prison source provided the information that she would be sent to the new Siberian colony. He believes the move is the result of both Nadia’s hunger strike and the protests being staged by her supporters outside the prison where she was formerly held. He and his father-in-law have stated their belief that officials are trying to cut off her communication with the outside world as a form of punishment, and they fear she may still be sick, abused, or worse.
We last reported that Pussy Riot‘s Nadezhda (Nadia) Tolokonnikova had been granted a transfer to a new Russian prison colony, after she went on a hunger strike to protest conditions in her original prison. It was then reported by various outlets in the last few days that the activist and musician, who was arrested along with two bandmates after a 2012 public protest in a Moscow church, has gone missing.
Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service has now announced that Tolokonnikova has been moved to a new location and that her lawyers and family would be informed of that location within 10 days of the move.
Until her family confirms that she is indeed at a new location and that she is safe and well, concerns remain.
The husband of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, the Russian punk rock activist jailed for staging a 2012 protest performance in a Moscow church with her band Pussy Riot, reports that his wife has been granted a transfer from her original prison to a new colony. Tolokonnikova, 23, began a hunger strike while in prison this September to bring attention to what she described as brutal conditions and human rights violations. She was hospitalized and then returned to the original prison, in Mordovia, but continued to express fear for her personal safety as a result of officials turning her fellow inmates against her. She reportedly also started a second hunger strike upon her return from the hospital.
Uneasy family members, who had not been informed of the transfer, have been told to expect information regarding her new location within 10 days.
Fugees member Lauryn Hill returned to our headlines yesterday with the release of a brand new, albeit rushed track. Today she returns to our front page, but sadly the news is not as good for Ms. Hill.
Hill appeared in court yesterday to face charges stemming from a $900,000 tax debt she owed to the US Government. As a result of her offenses, Hill was sentenced to serve three months prison time starting in July.
Hill plead guilty to the charges last year, but had taken care of the outstanding debt prior to appearing in court. Nathan Hochman, Hill’s attorney, told Reuters that his client actually paid off her debt through a loan leveraged against two pieces of real estate. He said, “Ms Hill has not only now fully paid prior to sentencing her taxes, which are part of her criminal restitution, but she has additionally fully paid her federal and state personal taxes for the entire period under examination through 2009.”
Hochman asked for mercy because of Hill’s charity work and 6 kids, but the judge said no.
Hill was present during the hearing, and delivered a statement to the judge in which she compared her situation to slavery, stating “I was put into a system I didn’t know the nature of. … I’m a child of former slaves. I got into an economic paradigm and had that imposed on me.”