Jailed Pussy Riot member goes on hunger strike

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova declares protest after court limits her time to prepare defence

Jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has declared a hunger strike against a Moscow court, according to reports.

The Moscow Times says that Tolokonnikova, who was incarcerated with two other members of the Russian band in February after they staged a protest against Russian President Vladmir Putin, is unhappy that she has been given until only July 9 to prepare a defence against the charges levelled at her by prosecutors.

The 23-year-old claims that she has been given five “books” of accusations to read by prosecutors and does not have enough time to sufficiently prepare. Her lawyer, Mark Feigin, has requested that they have until September 1 to review the case materials.

Last month (June 22), it was reported that Tolokonnikova and her bandmates Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, must remain imprisoned while undergoing investigation by the police for their “punk prayer” against Putin.

They face up to seven years in jail on hooliganism charges after they were arrested followed an impromptu performance at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral, where they sang a song called ‘Holy Shit’ as a protest against the Orthodox Christians church’s alleged support for Putin. Although Putin regained power in the last Russian election, the verdict has been marred by accusations of fraud by his competitors.

Shortly before their arrest, members of Pussy Riot spoke to NME, calling Putin’s reaction to their church protest “childish”. “We knew what the political situation was but now we’re personally feeling the full force of Putin’s Kafka-esque machine,” they said. “The state’s policy is based on a minimum of critical thinking and on a maximum of spite, and a desire to get even with those who don’t please it.”

Amnesty International have called for the release of band members, arguing that they were “prisoners of conscience” and accused the Russian government of punishing them for the “broader political context” of their actions, rather than the actions themselves.