Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda sent to Siberia

The punk activist's husband says she is being punished for speaking out about harsh penal colony conditions

Topics: Pussy Riot, Russia, siberia, penal colony, punk prayer, Punk, Prison, Hunger Strike, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, ,

With just a few months left of her two-year sentence for involvement in an anti-Putin punk performance in a Moscow cathedral, Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is reportedly being sent to a penal colony in deepest Siberia.

Concerns about the 23-year-old’s whereabouts piqued earlier this week, when her loved ones said they were unable to locate her in the Russian penal camp where she has been detained. According to an update from her husband, the Pussy Riot member has been located. “Petya Verzilov, said he had received ’100 percent reliable’ information that she was being moved to a prison in the Krasnoyarsk region, four time zones and 2,000 miles from Moscow,” the Guardian reported.

Tolokonnikova’s husband claims she is being punished for writing an open letter, which garnered viral attention, that decried the conditions at her previous penal colony as “slave labor”-like. Via the Guardian:

Verzilov said he believed the move was punishment for Tolokonnikova’s public statements, and decision had been taken to remove her from the media spotlight as much as possible.

“They do not have the ability to put on the usual psychological or physical pressure they can use with inmates because of the high profile of the case,” he said. “So they have chosen this as the punishment instead.”

Tolokonnikova was moved after going on hunger strike over conditions in her women’s prison camp, located in the region of Mordovia. In an open letter, she described a slave-like forced-labour routine, with 17-hour working days and an array of sadistic punishments. The conditions she described were reminiscent of Soviet-era Gulag literature, and sparked a huge debate both inside Russia and internationally.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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