October 18, 2013 20:37

Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina drops plea for early release

She told the court it was as a show of solidarity to the recently hospitalised Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina drops plea for early release

Photo: PA

Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina has dropped her plea to be released from jail early.

Alyokhina said that she made the decision as a mark of support for Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of the group, who has not been allowed to make the same request for early release, reports Reuters via The Line Of Best Fit.

"I have no moral right to take part in this court hearing at a time when my friend and fellow convict Nadezhda Tolokonnikova does not have such an opportunity," said Alyokhina during a court hearing. "It is extremely strange and disgusting to me that a convict in Russia is no more than the profit-making property of the authorities. I declare my protest against this, and I declare this protest from the inside, from this pit they are pushing us all into."

Tolokonnikova recently suspended her nine-day hunger strike. The activist began her protest last month to campaign against the alleged inhumane working conditions she says she had been forced to endure at Russia's Penal Colony No 14. In a statement released to NME, she said: "I am not calling off my hunger strike, I am temporarily suspending it because of my physical condition is now very bad and there are the beginnings of health complications."

She will now be moved to another penal colony. The Associated Press reports that Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service will transfer Tolokonnikova "for her personal safety."

On the seventh day of her protest, her husband told reporters she had been moved to the prison's hospital. Prison authorities said Tolokonnikova was in a stable condition and was receiving food over a drip.

In September Tolokonnikova detailed the reasons behind her hunger strike in an open letter: "This is an extreme method, but I am convinced that it is my only way out of my current situation." Describing the harsh prison conditions, she had said that prisoners got "four hours of sleep a night. We have a day off once every month and a half. We work almost every Sunday." She also said that "the hygienic and residential conditions of the camp are calculated to make the prisoner feel like a filthy animal without any rights". Read the full letter here.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina 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.

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