September 23, 2013 20:45

Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova goes on hunger strike

The imprisoned bandmember is striking against prison conditions

Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova goes on hunger strike

Photo: PA

Imprisoned member of Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, has gone on hunger strike.

Tolokonnikova has launched the strike as a protest against prison conditions and also as a response to an alleged death threat from the deputy head of the jail in which she is serving her sentence. In an open letter, published by The Guardian, she writes of the hunger strike: "This is an extreme method, but I am convinced that it is my only way out of my current situation."

She goes on to claim that even though only eight hours of work a day is officially required by the labour code, Tolokonnikova and her fellow inmates at Penal Colony No 14 have to work 16 or 17 hour days, sewing. "At best, we get four hours of sleep a night. We have a day off once every month and a half. We work almost every Sunday," she writes. She adds: "The hygienic and residential conditions of the camp are calculated to make the prisoner feel like a filthy animal without any rights."

Tolokonnikova explains that she will continue with her hunger strike "until the administration starts obeying the law and stops treating incarcerated women like cattle ejected from the realm of justice for the purpose of stoking the production of the sewing industry; until they start treating us like humans." Read the full letter here.

Tolokonnikova and fellow jailed Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina both had appeals for parole rejected earlier this year. They are both serving two-year sentences for breach of public order motivated by religious hatred. The sentences were handed to them in August 2012 after the band performed their now infamous 'punk prayer' protest against President Vladimir Putin at the Cathedral of Christ The Savior in Moscow in February 2012.

Alyokhina went on hunger strike after being denied permission to attend her initial parole hearing, claiming her fundamental rights were violated.

Renowned figures in the music and film industries have pledged their support to Pussy Riot with the likes of Madonna and Sir Paul McCartney both appealing to Putin to secure their release. A third member of the group, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was also imprisoned but had her sentence suspended in October of last year.

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