Missing Pussy Riot Member Found in Western Siberian Hospital

In 2012, Pussy Riot staged an anti-Putin protest imploring Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out”, as they sang in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral. Following charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, three band members were sentenced to two years in jail. Western governments and activists objected, saying the sentences were disproportionate.

In October 2013, Russian courts released Yekaterina Samutsevich on appeal.

Convicted Pussy Riot band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova staged a hunger strike when her own appeal failed. Tolokonnikova alleged that Mordovia prison staff forced inmates to work long hours, and denied her drinking water. She demanded a transfer, if not release.

About 26 days ago, Tolokonnikova went missing following a stay in the medical unit of the Mordovia penal colony. On 14 November 2013, her husband, Pyotr Verzilov announced that he finally spoke with her. The next day, Verzilov had a video conversation with his wife. Verzilov learned that Tolokonnikova arrived at a prison hospital in Krasnoyarsk, of western Siberia, where she is undergoing several tests. He hopes to visit her next week in Krasnoyarsk.

While Tolokonnikova’s hospital is known as the “Tuberculosis Hospital No 1”, Verzilov emphasized that she does not have tuberculosis.

“She feels more or less well, she told me yesterday on the phone,” Verzilov said. “It was the first phone call allowed in 26 days, ending this lengthy, almost month-long isolation that started in Mordovia and then continued throughout her lengthy transit, which spanned 4,000 kilometers across the whole of Russia.”

Verzilov added, “She thinks the conditions of this hospital are fairly good. She is surprised by how different it is here compared to Mordovia and other prison facilities she has encountered since her stay in the Moscow detention center. She is in a good mood now.”

While she was treated relatively well, prison authorities kept her in isolation during the trip between penal colonies.

Russian authorities corroborated that “convict Tolokonnikova has arrived to the institution of the Russian prison service in the Krasnoyarsk region.” However, her exact location was given to her lawyer with instructions not to tell anyone else. Russian law required authorities to inform Tolokonnikova’s family about the transfer within 10 days of her arrival at the new facility.

Aleksandr Nazarov, an official of the state agency supervising penitentiaries, stated that Tolokonnikova could potentially stay in the hospital until her sentence is served.

On this path, it seems that Russia is making good efforts to treat prisoner complaints with respect.

For further information, please see:

CNN International – ‘Missing’ Pussy Riot Inmate Tolokonnikova in Siberian Prison – November 15, 2013

RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty – Husband of Jailed Pussy Rioter Hopes to See Her Next Week – November 15, 2013

Telegraph – Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova ‘May Serve Rest of Jail Term in Hospital’ – November 15, 2013

BBC News – Jailed Pussy Riot Singer ‘Found in Hospital’ – November 14, 2013

Impunity Watch – Report Says Russian Pussy Riot Prisoner Transferred to New Penal Colony – November 4, 2013

 

Author: Benjamin Kopp

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