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Pussy Riot Member Now Serving Term in ‘Passable’ Prison Colony

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova transferred to jail Russian official describes as "not the worst colony"

Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has officially been transferred to a prison in Siberia. According to the Associated Press, Russia’s human rights ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, confirmed to news outlets that the 24-year-old punk-activist is in a medical unit at a prison in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia.

“Tolokonnikova has arrived in the Krasnoyarsk territory, where she will serve the rest of her term,” Lukin told the Interfax news agency (via the Los Angeles Times). “I was told [by Russian prison system authorities] she is in [the prison] hospital at her own request.”

Lukin did not reveal the name of the prison, but confirmed that more details about Tolokonnikova’s whereabouts will soon be provided to her relatives and lawyers, who feared she had gone missing after her sudden disappearance from a penal colony in Mordovia. Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service responded to reports that Tolokonnikova had vanished by explaining that the Pussy Riot member was simply being moved to a different prison. Tolokonnikova’s husband, Andrei Tolokonnikova, said the relocation was actually punishment for his wife’s very public criticisms of labor conditions at the jail.

“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,” Verzilov said. “So they have chosen this as the punishment instead.”

Tolokonnikova wrote an open letter earlier this year (via the Guardian) alleging that she and other inmates were forced to work 16 to 17 hours a day in a sewing shop, receiving just a single day off every month and a half. The imprisoned Riotress also claimed to have endured death threats from a prison official and in September embarked on a nine-day hunger strike to protest inhumane treatment. Tolokonnikova is currently serving a two-year sentence on the charge of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred,” and — along with fellow Pussy Rioter Maria Alyokhina — is scheduled to be released in early 2014.

Regarding the conditions at Tolokonnikova’s current location, human rights ombudsman Lukin offered little comfort. “In principle, conditions in Krasnoyarsk [regional] colonies are quite passable, as our constant studies show,” he said. “[Hers] is not the worst colony.”