After devastating verdict, Pussy Riot face a grim future

If their appeal is not successful they could be sent to a jail thousands of miles from home

Moscow

As lawyers for the jailed members of the punk band Pussy Riot prepare their appeals, the three women are gearing up to face the grim reality of two years in a Russian prison, where they will be able to meet their families and young children just once every six months, and receive phone calls only quarterly.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were sentenced to two years in prison last week by a Moscow court for performing a "punk prayer" in a Moscow cathedral in February. The women say it was a political protest over the Russian Orthodox Church's support for President Vladimir Putin, but the court ruled that it constituted "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" in a verdict that has caused outrage in Russia and across the world.

Lawyer Nikolai Polozov said he expected the court to hear the women's appeal in September, and if it was unsuccessful, they would be moved from pre-trial detention to a prison camp shortly afterwards. "The other inmates will mainly be there on theft and drugs-related offences," he said. "As there are almost no women's prisons of the highest security category, there will also be murderers and those accused of other serious crimes." The women can be dispatched to any prison in Russia, meaning they could end up thousands of miles away from Moscow. Two of the women have young children, but Mr Polozov said this would not be taken into account, and they would be allowed to see them only twice a year, .

Conditions in Russian jails are notoriously poor, with infectious diseases and drug use widespread. Last week, 19 prisoners at a jail in the far eastern city of Yakutsk attempted a mass suicide by slashing their veins with disposable razors, and many rights organisations have slammed prison conditions in the country. A US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks gave a grim account of the prison network. The cable, signed off by the then-US Ambassador to Russia in 2008, said: "The nature of the system, which has not substantively varied as it has evolved from tsarist prisons to the gulag to today's system, nurtures the spread of disease, abuse, and corruption."

A letter written by Ms Alekhina surfaced this week and detailed the events immediately after the verdict was handed down. She said police in the courthouse dealt with the women aggressively. "I was surprised, as they didn't usually treat us so rudely, so there must have been an order to do so," Ms Alekhina wrote.

The women were loaded into a police bus filled with riot police, and accompanied by police cars and two more buses of riot police, and the convoy travelled through Moscow using the specially assigned "VIP lanes" that allow important cars to avoid traffic.

"Terrorists and people who have committed violent crimes don't get treated in this way, but throwing this many resources at three girls shows only one thing – fear," she wrote. "I want to hope that everything ends well, but what is happening suggests that the opposite will be the case."

The hunt is also on for other members of Pussy Riot. A police source said earlier this week that the "necessary search operations" were under way.

Lawyers say this may be a scare tactic aimed at stopping further performances by Pussy Riot, rather than an actual hunt for the remaining women, given the large amount of negative publicity that the initial trial garnered for the authorities.

Of the five women who took part in the "punk prayer", two are still at large and are believed to be in Moscow. There are several other women who took part in earlier performances and helped to record a new single, released on the day of the verdict last week.

Suggested Topics
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker