Pussy Riot punk pleads for parole

2013-04-26 15:01
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, in uniform at a prison colony in the province of Mordovia in western Russia, where she is serving her two-year sentence. (Novaya Gazeta, AP)

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, in uniform at a prison colony in the province of Mordovia in western Russia, where she is serving her two-year sentence. (Novaya Gazeta, AP)

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Moscow - Jailed Pussy Riot punk Nadezhda Tolokonnikova on Friday pleaded to be released on parole from her two-year sentence, arguing that she had already spent enough time in prison camp for their protest against President Vladimir Putin.

"I have spent enough time in the prison camp, I've had enough of studying it: six months is time enough," Tolokonnikova told the judge at her parole hearing, the RAPSI legal news agency reported.

The parole hearing could theoretically see Tolokonnikova, a striking 23-year-old opposition activist and philosophy student at the elite Moscow State University, released immediately.

The 2012 trial of Tolokonnikova and two other members of the provocative feminist band grabbed worldwide attention, with stars such as Madonna, Sting and Yoko Ono voicing their support.

Tolokonnikova is serving a two-year sentence for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred along with her band mate Maria Alyokhina. A third woman, Yekaterina Samutsevich, received a suspended sentence.

Tolokonnikova has complained of severe headaches during her detention at a camp in the Mordovia region of central Russia.

European Court of Human Rights

Her lawyer Irina Khrunova argued in the Zubovo-Polyansky district court that her 5-year-old daughter, Gera, needed her mother.

"She has a family, a child. Her daughter misses her mother. The family must be reunited as soon as possible to allow the child to develop properly."

Her defence also read out an appeal for her release signed by several prominent rights activists, including veteran campaigner Lyudmila Alexeyeva and the head of the Memorial rights group Oleg Orlov.

Tolokonnikova has lodged a complaint in court against a reprimand issued against her for failing to greet a guard while she was in the sick bay, which could damage her chances of getting parole.

Alyokhina has filed a request for parole due to be heard in May but is seen as unlikely to receive it because of two formal reprimands issued to her in camp.

The three convicted members of Pussy Riot have submitted complaints to the European Court of Human Rights over their treatment in custody.

They were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for singing a "punk prayer" in a Moscow cathedral protesting Putin's close links with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Read more on:    pussy riot  |  sting  |  yoko ono  |  madonna  |  vladimir putin  |  russia  |  celebrities  |  human rights

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