General News

Amnesty leader urges Russian authorities to investigate rocker's prison abuse allegations

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Sep 26, 2013 | 2:00pm EDT

Human rights activists have called on Russian authorities to investigate allegations punk star Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been abused in jail. The Pussy Riot rocker launched a hunger strike on Monday (23Sep13) to protest claims she had been improperly treated by both prison staff and other inmates at a female detention centre in Mordovia, while she has also accused officials of exploiting prisoners for "slave labour". She was moved to an isolated cell for her own safety following her complaint, and now campaigners at Amnesty International have urged Russian authorities to take action and investigate her accusations. A statement released by Sergei Nikitin, director of the organisation's Moscow office, reads: "What the authorities should do is investigate the allegations she made. The case against members of the band Pussy Riot has been consistently outrageous from start to finish, and sought nothing other than to undermine the band members' right to freedom of expression." He has also spoken out in support of Tolokonnikova and her bandmate Maria Alekhina's release, over a year after the rockers were convicted and jailed on hooliganism charges for performing a protest song in a Moscow church. Nikitin adds, "(Authorities) must immediately and unconditionally release the activists and quash all charges against them." Tolokonnikova and Alekhina are expected to be released in March (14). A third groupmember, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was also convicted but her two-year sentence was commuted and she was freed in October, 2012. An appeal by Alekhina was adjourned on Thursday (26Sep13) and delayed until 18 October (13).

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