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Jailed Russian punk granted prison move request

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Oct 18, 2013 | 12:04pm EDT

Incarcerated Russian punk star Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been granted her request to be moved to a new prison after embarking on her second hunger strike to protest conditions behind bars. The Pussy Riot member originally took drastic action late last month (Sep13) after accusing bosses at the Mordovia prison colony, where she is serving a two-year sentence for hooliganism, of mistreatment and using inmates as "slave labour". She was forced to end her hunger strike nine days into her protest after she was hospitalised over fears for her health, and she was moved into isolation. However, Tolokonnikova recently hit out at Russian authorities for the relocation, claiming they were imposing an "information blockade" on her by placing her in solitary and reportedly banning her from receiving visits from her relatives and her lawyer for two weeks. The rocker also alleged that a deputy warden had threatened her life for speaking out against the conditions, and she resumed her no food policy on Friday (18Oct13). However, her second protest attempt didn't last long - officials at the Federal Penitentiary Service bowed to her demand to be transferred to another incarceration centre on the same day, revealing it is "for her personal safety". Meanwhile, Tolokonnikova's bandmate Maria Alekhina has withdrawn her request to have her two-year sentence reduced in a show of solidarity for her embattled pal. During a mitigation hearing on Friday at the District Court of Nizhny Novgorod, Alekhina said, "I have no moral right to take part in this court hearing at a time when my friend and fellow convict Nadezhda Tolokonnikova does not have such opportunity." Tolokonnikova and Alekhina were jailed last year (12) alongside fellow Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich over a controversial protest song they performed at a Moscow church, taking aim at Russian President Vladimir Putin. Samutsevich was freed in October, 2012, when her sentence was commuted, and Tolokonnikova and Alekhina are set to be released in March (14).

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