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article imagePussy Riot member held too long in isolation

By Raluca Besliu     Apr 4, 2013 in Politics
Regional Russian prosecutors claimed on Wednesday that the prison camp, where Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina is currently serving her two-year sentence, broke the law by keeping her in isolation for an excessive period of time.
The prosecutors revealed that a court decided last month that the Corrective Labor Camp No.28 in the Perm region of the Ural mountains had illegally extended Alyokhina’s term in an isolation cell beyond the maximum 90 days. They further emphasized that the camp must either guarantee her personal security in a general cell or transfer to another prison. Alyokhina had originally asked that she be placed in isolation, in order to escape death threats made by her cellmates, most of whom were recidivists. The Pussy Riot member’s lawyer, Irina Khrunova, revealed that her client prefers not to be transferred to another camp, where she would have to build relations with new officials and inmates.
Alyokhina and two other band members, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were arrested in February 2012, after organizing a protest against President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. The three were convicted for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred," after irreverently praying in the cathedral to the Virgin Mary for deliverance from Putin. While Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova are now serving two-year sentences in prison colonies, Samutsevich was released on appeal in October 2012. In February 2013, Tolokonnikova had to be transferred to a prison hospital, after complaining of suffering from severe headaches, as a result of the strenuous prison conditions under which she is held and the additional workload she was given.
In late March 2013, a Moscow appellate court rejected the three imprisoned Pussy Riot members’ appeal, thus reaffirming the lower court’s decision that the punk group’s February protests was motivated "by religious hatred." The court also denied a defense appeal to review the court proceedings.
Despite the court’s stern decision, the three band members’ imprisonment has sparked outrage both within Russia and internationally. Most recently, Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin called for their parole, by stating he considers their punishment "excessive" and emphasizing that actions such as theirs, if not inflicting significant damage to people or property, "should be regulated at the administrative level, not the criminal one."
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