Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Court to rule on Pussy Riot member

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was arrested last March, and later convicted of hooliganism (AP)
Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was arrested last March, and later convicted of hooliganism (AP)

A Russian court is to consider whether one of the jailed Pussy Riot band members is eligible for early release.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who has been in custody since her arrest last March, is serving a two-year sentence for the band's irreverent protest against President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral.

A court in Zubova Polyana opened the hearings on Friday as dozens of journalists descended on the small town in the central province of Mordovia, home to a sprawling web of Soviet-era prison camps.

Tolokonnikova, 23, and two other female members of the punk band were convicted last year of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for the anti-Putin performance at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral.

One of the women has had her sentence suspended on appeal.

Tolokonnikova, dressed in a Soviet-style dark-blue prison uniform with a white scarf around her neck, told the court that the prison colony did not support her plea of early release because she "didn't repent". Russian law does not make repentance a condition for early release.

Leading Tolokonnikova's defence team is Irina Khrunova who secured bandmate Yekaterina Samutsevich's release.

Defence lawyers urged the court to release Tolokonnikov so she can take care of her five-year-old daughter.

Lawyer Dmitry Dinze also complained that prison officials seem unable to provide proper conditions to treat her persistent headaches.

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