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In August 2012, Moscow’s City Court jailed three members of the punk band Pussy Riot for two years. Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were convicted of ‘hooliganism on the grounds of religious hatred’ after playing a gig in Moscow’s main Orthodox cathedral, and miming along to lyrics that criticised the relationship of President Vladimir Putin with Russia's Orthodox Church.
We believe that the three women were punished by authorities on politically motivated grounds. Their right to free speech was curtailed, and as such they are prisoners of conscience. Demand their release now
In October 2012, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were sentenced to two years in prison, and sent to labour colonies. Ekaterina Samutsevich was given a suspended sentence and released from prison.
24 year-old Maria asked for her sentence to be postponed until her son, now five, turns 14. In January 2013 her appeal for deferral was heard before the court, who dismissed it. Nadezhda too asked for her sentence to be deferred so she could care for her child, but this has not been granted.
During her time at the IK-28 penal colony Maria has spoken out on human rights, demanding access to her lawyer and complaining about 'household issues'. According to a spokesperson for the Federal Penal Service, she is currently being held in a punishment block 'for her own safety'. In a recent interview with Russian newspaper Novayagazeta, Maria explains this was initially because she went to the warden to raise concern after receiving threats from inmates who she now believes to be employed by the prison authorities. The conclusion of these investigations, she says, was that Maria is in danger from other inmates and must remain in the ‘safe place’.In a separate interview, Nadezhda explained that she and her fellow inmates are given access to a shower just once a week, and are expected to wash in cold water at all other times. Read the full interviews
Maria and Nadezhda are prisoners of conscience. Please ask for their immediate release.
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