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Lawyer: Pussy Riot members arrive at remote prison camps

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 11:15 EDT
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Two jailed members of the all-girl punk band Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina (left) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, sitting in a glass-walled cage in a court in Moscow on October 10. (AFP)
 
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The jailed Pussy Riot punks, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina have arrived at prison camps in remote Russian regions, a defence lawyer said Wednesday.

“Tolokonnikova has arrived at corrective labour camp 14 in Mordovia and Alyokhina has arrived at camp 32 in Perm,” lawyer Violetta Volkova told the Interfax news agency.

“We do not have official information. I found this out from my sources, they checked it,” Volkova added.

The Russian prison service is obliged to inform the women’s relatives of their location within 10 days of their arrival.

The Mordovia camp, known for its harsh conditions, is the same one where the only woman convicted in the Yukos oil case that saw the jailing of Russia’s former richest man Mikhail Khodorkovsky, lawyer Svetlana Bakhmina, served time from 2006 until October 2008.

The Perm camp is seen as a more pleasant option since it is in a city, although Perm is about 1,400 kilometres from Moscow where Alyokhina’s young son lives.

The two women were sentenced to two years for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after they performed a “punk prayer” in a Moscow cathedral. Bandmate Yekaterina Samutsevich was released on appeal with a suspended sentence because guards grabbed her before she could take part.

Bakhmina, now 43, told New Times opposition magazine that Camp No. 14 had no hot water and the only way to wash was once a week in a Turkish-style bath. Some women used to open radiator valves in winter to get warm water, she said.

While Bakhmina was convicted of the financial crime of embezzlement, she said she lived and slept in a section including murderers.

If Volkova is correct, Tolokonnikova will be in the same camp as Yevgenia Khasis, the partner of a nationalist activist who shot a rights lawyer and a journalist in broad daylight in Moscow in 2009.

Khasis was sentenced to 18 years for complicity in the murders.

The regional prison service posted photographs of a recent visitors’ day at the camp showing the women in shabby green jackets and trousers meeting family members and in the prison chapel.

The camp’s prisoners bake cookies for sale and sew uniforms, the prison service said.

Mordovia in central Russia is a region dotted with lakes that has a large number of prison camps, which grew up in the 1930s as part of the Stalin-era GULAG system of labour camps.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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