Belfast Telegraph

Monday 31 August 2015

Pussy riot member taken to hospital

Published 28/05/2013

Maria Alekhina has been on a hunger strike for several days
Maria Alekhina has been on a hunger strike for several days

One of the jailed Russian punk group Pussy Riot has been taken to hospital on the seventh day of a hunger strike to protest at what she calls a persecution campaign.

Maria Alekhina was transferred to a hospital in her prison colony in the Ural Mountains town of Berezniki, said Pyotr Verzilov, the husband of one of her band mates.

Maria went on a hunger strike last Wednesday after she was barred from attending her own parole hearing. The court, which is across the street from the prison, denied her release.

Three members of the band - Maria, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich - were convicted last year of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for an impromptu punk protest against Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral and given two-year sentences.

Yekaterina was later released on appeal. Last month a court in the Mordovia province denied parole to Nadezhda, who is married to Mr Verzilov.

In a letter published by her lawyers, Maria said prison officials were attempting to turn fellow inmates against her by holding a security crackdown in advance of the parole hearing. Inmates could previously enter and leave their workplace freely, but now they have to wait for prison guards to escort them for up to an hour.

Maria earlier spent five months in solitary confinement after claiming that officials deliberately lodged her with hardened criminals, including a convicted murderer, and encouraged them to intimidate her.

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