April 10, 2013 8:53

Jailed Pussy Riot member vows to continue political activism

Nadya Tolokonnikova will continue to appeal her guilty verdict

Jailed Pussy Riot member vows to continue political activism

Photo: PA

One of the jailed members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot has spoken out from her prison cell, vowing to continue political activism.

Nadya Tolokonnikova, 23, is currently being detained in a distant prison colony in Mordovia, a Russian region infamous for its high number of prison camps. She has been held there since October, serving a two-year sentence on charges of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred".

Tolokonnikova and two other members of Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, were found guilty in August last year after their now infamous "punk prayer" gig, when they performed a song criticising Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox church in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral. Samutsevich was released in October (2012) following an appeal.

As The Guardian reports, a court in Mordovia is due to hold a parole hearing on Tolokonnikova's case later this month (April 26), but she told the paper she had not been informed of this. "For me, the parole hearing means nothing," she said. "In our case, the government wants us to recognise our guilt, which of course we won't do," Tolokonnikova said. "I submitted the parole documents to show that they cannot break a person."

When asked if she had thorught about her life after prison, Tolokonnikova replied: "My life isn't going to change – there will be new key components because of the experience I've gathered here. The vectors of politics and art will continue the same."

Pussy Riot supporters – including a cast and crew of mucicians ranging from Madonna to Paul McCartney and Bjork, and human rights groups including Amnesty International have condemned the imprisonment of the two women and say they are political prisoners. However, this was denied this week by a leading judge in the Moscow appeals court, where the women are appealing against their sentence. "We don't hear political cases," Olga Yegorova said in an interview with state-run NTV television. "It is in my power to lessen their sentence – it's not excluded that that will happen."

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