News / Europe

Jailed Pussy Riot Member Complains of 'Death Threats'

August 3, 2012: Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia.August 3, 2012: Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia.
x
August 3, 2012: Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia.
August 3, 2012: Pussy Riot members, from left, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alekhina sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia.
Reuters
One of two jailed Pussy Riot members said she received death threats and complained of abuse at a prison colony where she is serving a two-year sentence for a punk protest against President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral.

But Maria Alyokhina and fellow group member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said they did not regret the protest, despite describing harsh prison conditions in interviews published on Wednesday by the opposition-leaning Novaya Gazeta newspaper.

Alyokhina, 24, who lost an appeal this month to have her sentence deferred to care for her five-year-old son, said she was transferred to solitary confinement in November after being threatened by inmates she suspects of acting on the orders of prison officials.

"(They said) if you stay in this unit - that's the end of you... Human rights are grossly violated here,'' said Alyokhina, who is being held at a penal colony in the Urals Mountains region of Perm.

"What is the most difficult thing? Coming to understand how this system works, how it creates a slave mentality,'' she said. "Ignorance, cowardice, betrayal, denunciation is the norm.''

Tolokonnikova, 23, who also has a young child and is jailed in the central Russian region of Mordovia, renown for its legacy of Soviet-era prison camps, said she has not been victim of the same pressure as Alyokhina but described pitiless conditions of forced labour.

Like many female inmates in Russia, she works to fulfil quotas for sewing padded winter jackets, earning a salary of 350 roubles ($11.59) per month, she said.

Both women, who were inspired by leftist philosophy to form the radical punk performance art group, complained of not having enough time for and access to books in jail.

Three Pussy Riot members - who until their arrest hid their identities and that of other band mates behind trademark coloured balaclavas at impromptu street performances - were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

One of the three was released on appeal with a suspended sentence but Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova are less than halfway through their prison terms, which are counted from their arrests in March 2012.

'Heartfelt Cry'

Pussy Riot's raucous "punk prayer'', the women flashing legs clad in brightly-coloured tights and brandishing an electric guitar on the altar, was criticised by Putin and cast by the Russian Orthodox Church as part of a concerted attack on the country's main faith.

The two jailed women complained that their message, part of a wave of opposition protests against Putin's decision to return for a third Kremlin term since 2000, has been twisted by Russian media.

"Russian state propaganda presented us as blasphemers, as hooligans and so on, but in reality it was an ironic and funny action, though still a desperate one,'' said Tolokonnikova.

"It was, so to speak, a political heartfelt cry which was still made in an ironic and funny manner.''

Alyokhina raged against what she said was the low level of public debate in Russia, where the Kremlin has a near monopoly over federal television - the main source of news for Russians.

"There were many who were incredulous, who didn't understand why we are not happy with Putin,'' she told Novaya Gazeta.

"One girl expressed a very interesting point of view that Putin looks great on TV, so why are we not happy with him? ... That's the level of a dialogue, and it is really sad.''

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
January 23, 2013 10:42 PM
The news about death threats for political opponents is a very truthful and sad piece of journalism correctly conveying the dark political atmosphere in Putin’s Russia. Anybody familiar with the snarl of the brutal regime could have expected such news. But FSB’s agents all over the world will denounce the information with words “that it can’t be true because it can’t be true”. To murder the brave girls who challenged the legitimacy of the FSB regime is in the regime’s plot. The establishment has a lot of means at their disposal: starting with threats from conspiring cellmates to polonium, alkaloids or psychotropic drugs in their meal. Where else in the world the martyr-girls making the political statement in their prayer could be convicted as common criminals and placed in jail with thugs? The answer is – only in Putin’s Russia. No wonder that common criminals in the jail don’t understand why the martyr-girls weren’t happy with the absence of political choice in contemporary Russia.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs