General News

Russian punk star on hunger strike

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Sep 23, 2013 | 10:06am EDT

Pussy Riot rocker Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has gone on hunger strike in protest against conditions at the Russian jail where she is serving her sentence. Tolokonnikova and two other members of the punk collective were imprisoned last year (12) for hooliganism, and she is due for release in March (14). She has now accused bosses of the prison in Mordovia of exploiting the inmates for slave labour and has vowed to shun food until conditions are improved. Tolokonnikova alleges she has been abused by inmates and jail staff, and claims prisoners are forced to work 17-hour days sewing police uniforms. In a letter to her husband, Pyotr Verzilov, Tolokonnikova writes, "Beginning September 23, I am going on hunger strike and refusing to participate in colony slave labour. I will do this until the administration starts obeying the law and stops treating incarcerated women like cattle... "(During the working day) your hands are pierced with needles and covered in scratches, your blood is all over the work table, but still you keep sewing." Tolokonnikova was jailed for two years in August last year (12) along with bandmates Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina for performing a protest song against President Vladimir Putin at a church in Moscow. Samutsevich was freed in October (12) when her sentence was commuted.

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