Pussy Riot Member Rejects Early Release Option to Stand By Friend

Maria Alyokhina withdraws application while Nadezhda Tolokonnikova picks up hunger strike

Pussy Riot Prison Release Hunger Strike Health Protest
Talk to the balaclava, not the face Photo by Getty Images
Chris Martins WRITTEN BY
Chris Martins

The imprisoned women of Pussy Riot continue to fight the good fight at great personal sacrifice. Member Maria Alyokhina has announced that she is withdrawing her application for early release since her friend and compatriot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is not being granted the same opportunity. She also publicly petitioned for commuted sentences for all female convicts who have small children beyond the bars, as both she and Tolokonnikova do.

A Russian wire service, via The Hollywood Reporter, quoted Alyokhina as saying, "I have no moral right to take part in this court hearing at a time when my friend and fellow convict Nadezhda Tolokonnikova does not have such opportunity." Her statement of solidarity arrives in tandem with the news that Tolokonnikova has resumed her hunger strike a mere day after being released from the hospital as a result of her last protest.

Tolokonnikova initially refused food in order to bring awareness to poor prisoner treatment at a correctional facility near Moscow, where she was being held. She succeeded in inspiring a fruitful investigation into abuses therein, but was hospitalized on October 1 as a result. She is now protesting the fact that her request to be transferred to a different prison isn't being honored. She was denied the early parole option because she refused to "repent."

As incredibly high-profile inmates, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina have both used the hunger strike as an effective method to gain small victories while locked up. They've also amassed an international following of influential supporters — from Madonna to Paul McCartney to Arcade Fire to Ke$ha — and inspired a documentary and an art/lit collection compiling work from a number of impressive creative types.

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