Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova goes on hunger strike in jail

 

A jailed member of the punk band Pussy Riot has launched a hunger strike to protest against living conditions in prison which she says “treat women like cattle”.

In a long letter Nadezhda Tolokonnikova says she is lucky to get four hours of sleep a night and has received a death threat from a prison official.

Tolokonnikova was jailed for two years in August 2012 after performing what the band called a “punk prayer” in a Moscow cathedral in a protest against Vladimir Putin.

As part of her punishment she has to sew police uniforms, and says she is expected to work 16 or 17 hours a day, starting at 7.30am and not finishing until after midnight.

“I am going on hunger strike and refusing to participate in colony slave labour,” Tolokonnikova wrote in a letter circulated by her husband, Pyotr Verzilov.“I will do this until the administration stops treating incarcerated women like cattle,” she wrote.

In the best case scenario we get four hours of sleep per night,“ Tolokonnikova says. ”We get a day off once every six weeks. Almost all Sundays are work days. Prisoners are forced to write requests to work on weekends saying it is their own voluntary decision.“

She says she will refuse food until her concerns are addressed. ”As of Monday 23 September I announce that I am on hunger strike. This is an extreme method, but I am absolutely certain that it is the only way out of this situation for me. The prison colony's administration refuses to listen to me.”

Though she has not been subject to violence, she says others are regularly beaten on the face or kidneys. The beatings are carried out by other inmates, but “never happen without the knowledge and sanction of the prison authorities”. Tolokonnikova also wrote that Mordovia, where she is, remains one of the most feared in Russia.

A Mordovia prison system spokesman denied all of Tolokonnikova's allegations calling her claims of death threats “absurd”. Earlier this year Maria Alyokhina, another member of Pussy Riot also subject to prison, went on hunger strike for 11 days against conditions in the prison in the Perm region where she is serving her sentence. The prison authorities met many of her demands. Both she and Tolokonnikova are due for release in March next year.

Protestors demonstrate against the prison sentences of the Russian band Pussy Riot Protestors demonstrate against the prison sentences of the Russian band Pussy Riot  

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement