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Society

Pussy Riot On Hunger Strike To Protest Slave Labor And ‘Death Threats’ In Russian Prison

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, the 23-year-old leader of the feminist punk rock band Pussy Riot, declared a hunger strike on Monday to protest death threats and slave labor at the Russian prison camp where she is currently serving a two-year sentence for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.”

Tolokonnikova’s band played a song deriding Russian President Vladimir Putin in the middle of Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior in February 2012. She and one other band member, Maria Alyokhina, were convicted on Aug. 12, 2012. Both received a sentence of two years in a penal colony.

Tolokonnikova claims she received a death threat from the deputy director of her prison camp, the Mordovia camp in central Russia, when she complained about working conditions. She says female inmates are forced to work 16 to 17 hours a day, only sleeping for four hours, and are regularly subjected to abuse.

She referred to the deputy as “lieutenant-colonel Kupriyanov,” a self-confessed Stalinist. She said shortly thereafter she began receiving threats from other inmates.

She said Monday that she will refuse food and stop working in the sewing workshop until she is transferred to another prison camp.

“This is an extreme measure but I am absolutely confident that this is the only possible way for me out of this situation,” she wrote in a letter to her attorneys.

People who know Tolokonnikova are alarmed by the letter. They say she previously was stoic about her experiences in prison, even the differences she’s had with administrators. The letter is a completely different tone.

“My life and health are in danger,” she wrote in a separate letter, a formal appeal to investigators to open a criminal probe into the alleged threats.

She wrote that she and her fellow inmates are forced to work from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. seven days a week.

“The Mordovia inmates are afraid of their own shadows,” she added.

She claims they are also beaten or denied food, water, or toilets for minor infractions.

“I demand that we be treated as people and not slaves,” she wrote. She said a group of women were even forced to undress and sew naked in the workshop.

“Just recently, a young woman got stabbed in the head with a pair of scissors because she didn’t turn in a pair of trousers on time,” Tolokonnikova wrote. “Another recently tried to stab herself in the stomach with a handsaw.”

The head of the state-run prison watchdog in Mordovia threw out her allegations.

“The prison conditions at the camp No 14 where she is serving her sentence are excellent,” Gennady Morozov told a popular Moscow radio station.

Morozov claims Tolokonnikova is only working 8-hour shifts.

Sources: Fox News, Raw Story

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