Pussy Riot member goes missing

tolokonnikova pussy riot
One of the jailed members of the all-girl punk band “Pussy Riot,” Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, has been missing since Oct. 24.
Credit: Maksim Blinov / AFP / Getty

The family of jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has not known her location since Oct. 21, when she was moved from a prison in Russia’s Republic of Mordovia. Tolokonnikova’s father and husband said Russian officials had her moved that day from a prison colony without explanation, reports BuzzFeed.

The 23-year-old mother of one was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after she and her band members performed a crude protest song in February 2012 in Moscow. The harsh punishment and political nature of the offense brought the case worldwide attention.

Tolokonnikova’s father, Andrei Tolokonnikov, told BuzzFeed, “There’s no proof she’s alive, we don’t know the state of her health.” Tolokonnikova had been protesting prison conditions by going on a hunger strike. She was hospitalized at the end of September after a week of not eating. She wrote an open letter about the “slavery-like conditions” of the prison colony to the Guardian, including 17-hour work days, and detailed her decision to go on a hunger strike.

Her supporters often protested outside her prison colony and hospital and her husband, Petya Verzilov, believes this is part of the reason why Tolokonnikova was moved. “We think they moved her to a big city to hide her,” Tolokonnikov told BuzzFeed. “It seems they got sick of these protests.” He added that he thinks Russian officials want to cut her off from civilization.

Tolokonnikova was last spotted by a fellow passenger pulling into a train station in the city of Chelyabinsk in the Ural Mountains on Oct. 24, according to her husband. He was told that she was held there overnight and no one has seen her since. Tolokonnikova’s family said prison authorities promised to tell them her new location 10 days after she was moved but they have not heard anything yet from officials.


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