The service will focus on the courts, law enforcement and the prison system in Russia

Members of Pussy Riot, the Russian punk protest group who were imprisoned for singing a ‘punk prayer’ outside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, have launched an independent news service.

The service, Mediazona, will work alongside a prisoners rights charity set up by the two incarcerated members of the group – Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina – set up after their release.

Mediazona can be viewed at www.zona.media and is edited by Russian political journalist Sergey Smirnov.

Speaking about the initiative, Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova said, “Since our release from prison six months ago we’ve felt that Russian media are no longer able to cover what is going on”.

“Because of the heavy censorship by authorities there is no space for anything in the media that criticises Putin’s policies and tracks human rights abuses by Russian courts and law enforcement. Courts, prisons, arrests, convictions, riots in facilities, political criminal cases, crimes by law enforcement officials – our new media outlet will try to cover it all.”

Earlier this year, Tolokonnikova and fellow band member Maria Alyokhina announced that they will be suing the Russian government over their previous imprisonment.

The two women are seeking €120,000 (£95,000) each in compensation, as well as €10,000 in court fees. They both served 21 months in prison, and were released in December last year because of a nationwide prison amnesty.