Pussy Riot bandmember ends hunger strike

Jailed Pussy Riot punk rock group member Maria Alyokhina is pictured on a monitor, as she takes part in a video conference from the penal colony, inside the courtroom during a hearing in the town of Berezniki  Credit: Reuters
Jailed Pussy Riot punk rock group member Maria Alyokhina is pictured on a monitor, as she takes part in a video conference from the penal colony, inside the courtroom during a hearing in the town of Berezniki
Credit: Reuters

One of the three members of the Pussy Riot band jailed for performing a profanity-laced punk song against Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s main cathedral ended a hunger strike on Saturday after prison authorities gave in to her demands.

Maria Alyokhina, 25, went on hunger strike last month after officials prevented her from attending a parole hearing and was hospitalized as her physical condition got worse.

Her lawyer Irina Khrunova told Reuters Alyokhina had ended the strike after a number of her demands, which included the reversal of excessive security measures in the prison, were met.

Pyotr Verzilov, the husband of another jailed band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, told Reuters by phone he thought it was “unprecedented” for Russian prison authorities to hear the demands of inmates.

“They organized an ‘excursion’ for Maria today, where she was shown that all her demands, like removing metal locks from doors and easing 24-hour surveillance on certain inmates were met,” he said. “It seems the public reaction (to the strike) was so big, that there was a political decision (to meet these demands).”

Alyokhina and her two bandmates were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred last August after a trial seen by Putin’s opponents as part of a clampdown on dissent at the start of his third term in power.

The third woman jailed, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed last October when a judge suspended her sentence on appeal.

Western governments and entertainers including Madonna said the sentence was disproportionate but Putin, a former KGB spy who has cultivated close ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, said the state needed to protect the faithful.


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