Pussy Riot pair sent to 'harshest possible prison camps' far from Moscow

Two members of the anti-Putin band Pussy Riot have been sent to remote prison colonies to serve their sentences for hooliganism, according to supporters of the group.

Maria Alyokhina, 24, will serve her sentence at a prison in the Perm region in the Ural Mountains, about 800 miles east of Moscow, while Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, has been sent to a prison in the Volga republic of Mordovia, 350 miles south-east of Moscow,

"Nadya… was sent to Mordovia. A camp of hell," the modern art group Voina said on Twitter, citing sources inside the Moscow prison where the two were being held.

Voina is a controversial group of performance artists that includes Tolokonnikova's husband, Peter Verzilov.

"These are the harshest possible camps that could have been chosen," other members of Pussy Riot said on their own Twitter account.

Both regions host several prisons and it was not clear to which colonies the women had been sent. Prison authorities declined to comment on the women's whereabouts. Alyokhina and Tolokonnikov were sentenced to two years' imprisonment for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" over a crude "punk prayer" they performed in Moscow's main cathedral, Christ the Saviour, on 21 February.

At an appeal earlier this month a judge freed a third band member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, on the grounds that she had been detained by guards before she was able to take part in the performance.

Russia's prison colonies are camp-like institutions, some of which were part of the Soviet-era gulag network. While the two women were spared the toughest "hard" regime institutions, conditions will still be harsh.

Including time served, both are due for release in March 2014.

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