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Court denies parole to Pussy Riot punk

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, April 26, 2013 13:25 EDT
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Nadezhda Tolokonnikova via AFP
 
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A Russian court ruled to keep Pussy Riot punk Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in jail on Friday, denying her request for parole from her two-year sentence for the band’s performance against President Vladimir Putin last year.

Judge Lidiya Yakovleva sided with prison officials, who said that 23-year-old Tolokonnikova does not deserve parole because she has not repented for her actions and has had reprimands while serving out her two-year term in a prison colony in Mordovia.

“Applying parole to Tolokonnikova is premature,” she said after taking about an hour-and-a-half to deliberate and failing to give the defence a chance for a final argument. “The court finds the arguments of the defence unsound.”

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, wearing green prison garb, silently stood in her courtroom metal cage as the decision was read.

Tolokonnikova, one of the two members of the all-female punk band jailed last year for their “punk prayer” performance at a Moscow cathedral, earlier told the court that she has “spent enough time in the prison camp… six months is time enough.”

She is serving a two-year sentence for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred along with her bandmate Maria Alyokhina. A third woman, Yekaterina Samutsevich, received a suspended sentence.

The parole hearing could have seen the striking opposition activist, philosophy student at the elite Moscow State University and mother of a small daughter, released immediately.

Prison administration representatives present in court argued that Tolokonnikova “does not repent for what she has done” and has received reprimands, and therefore needs to serve out her sentence.

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.

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

Tolokonnikova has complained of severe headaches during her detention at a camp in the Mordovia region of central Russia.

Her lawyer Irina Khrunova argued in the Zubovo-Polyansky district court that her 5-year-old daughter, Gera, needed her mother.

“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.”

Her defence also read out an appeal for her release signed by several prominent rights activists, including veteran campaigner Lyudmila Alexeyeva and the head of the Memorial rights group Oleg Orlov.

Tolokonnikova has lodged a complaint in court against a reprimand issued against her for failing to greet a guard while she was in the sick bay.

Alyokhina has filed a request for parole due to be heard in May but is seen as unlikely to receive it because of two formal reprimands issued to her in camp.

The three convicted members of Pussy Riot have submitted complaints to the European Court of Human Rights over their treatment in custody.

They were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for their short performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour protesting Putin’s close links with the Russian Orthodox Church.

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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