Pussy Riot activists sent to secret harsh labor camps


Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have been sent to regions known for hosting Russia's harshest hard-labor camps, places that once served as Soviet gulags. The 24 and 22 year old mothers -- who performed a song protesting the Russian Orthodox Church's connection to the Putin regime in a cathedral -- have been sentenced to two years of hard labor. Though the regions to which they've been dispatched is known, no one -- not even their families -- has been allowed to know exactly which prison-camps they are incarcerated in. The Guardian's Miriam Elder reports from Moscow:

"These are the harshest camps of all the possible choices," the band said via its Twitter account on Monday.

...Confusion reigned on Monday as relatives and lawyers tried to assess exactly where the women were sent. Both Perm and Mordovia host several prison camps, some of which comprised the Soviet-era gulag system. Prison authorities declined to comment on the women's whereabouts.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova had petitioned to serve their sentences in Moscow, arguing that they wanted to be close to their children. Alyokhina has a five-year-old son named Filipp, while Tolokonnikova has a four-year-old daughter named Gera.

Pussy Riot band members sent to remote prison camps

(Image: Free Pussy Riot Posters & Designs 07, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from centralasian's photostream)

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  1. I am so sorry.  I don’t really dig their music, but I love what they stand for.   What the fuck is wrong with Russia that they have to send these young moms to secret hard-labor prisons, for two years – just for 5 minutes of disrupting some “Cathedral”???

    Really? Don’t the Russian authorities and KGBs or whoever they are now, have anything better to do?

    Reminds me of an ancient Doonesbury strip.  “Dear Russkies, Please back off.   Love, Zonker.

    1. One nagging doubt in my mind – has the Orthodox church stepped in and petitioned the government for Christ’s forgiveness to these women?  Or are the priests flabby, flaccid and content in the arms of putrid Putin Russia?

  2. As much as I may frequently dispair of the UK justice system, it’s at times like this that I feel very lucky to live in a country with a comparatively functional and fair system.

    Not that it’s perfect, but we don’t send people to secret hard labour camps or regularly stick people in solitary for months or years at a time.

    1. There are no “secret camps” in Russia. It’s just a procedure. Moscow decides the region, local prison authorites decide the exact colony. That decision has not been made yet (it takes several days to sort everything out). For Tolokonnikova, it’s Colony 13 or Colony 14 in Mordovia. For Alekhina, it’s Colony 28 or Colony 32 in Perm. Those colonies are “first offenders only”. “Hard labor” means sewing. A lot of sewing.

      1. That’s nice to know, Boris, but are you OK with the notion of Russia once again sending political prisoners to gulag?  Because that’s what this whole incident looks like to westerners.

      2. That’s interesting to hear, and thanks for the further information.

        It reminds me of the other recent case involving one of the founders of The Pirate Bay. He is currently in solitary confinement in a Swedish jail. However a commenter on Slashdot who has actually been held under the same conditions described them as being radically different to what one thinks of when considering US style solitary confinement. They are actually kept in very good conditions, with entertainment, TV, radio, reading material etc, it’s not the borderline sensory deprivation that the US and many other countries use. I’m still not a fan of it, but it isn’t what most people think of when they hear “solitary confinement”.

        Out of curiosity, is it standard practice in Russia that all prisoners are sent to different parts of the country? Here it is generally the case that prisoners are housed as near to their homes and families as possible, assuming there is capacity. Are there no prisons in or near Moscow?

    2. Paul_leader: “As much as I may frequently dispair of the UK justice system, it’s at times like this that I feel very lucky to live in a country with a comparatively functional and fair system.”

      Yes, internalising the propaganda of your own country makes for more a more relaxed mind all right. Have you forgotten the Birmingham Six, Guildford Four, and the torture of Irish republican prisoners generally? Are you familiar with with house arrest orders of the Home Secretary? Do you have any clue what the British military were doing in Iraq? What do you think happens to a captured Taliban fighter?

      Britain has gone 400 years without a serious war on its territory. The United States is essentially uninvadable. This provides a good basis for developing liberal values in state institutions since there is nothing like a war to inculcate government paranoia.

      Russia was devastated repeatedly in the 20th century. No society is going to be a liberal beacon in that context. But it is likely to develop in that direction over the next century. In the meantime, western attempts to encourage a colour revolution with absurd promotion of liberal oppositions (never the more deeply rooted Communists of course!), and even absurder levels of publicity for Pussy Riot retard rather than help that evolution.

      1. Japan? France? Germany? A history of violence is a poor excuse. Liberalism starts with an enlightened elite that drives a clean break with an illiberal past and lays the foundation for a more democratic transition. The process does not require much time.

        Unfortunately, Russia’s post-Soviet leadership has, so far, entirely lacked such a (admittedly uncommon) breed of individuals, while the West, forgetting the lessons of WWII, ignored the other path to a successful transition by choosing to gloat instead of lending a helping hand early on. As a result, Russia’s present-day power structures have become, entrenched, unchecked, an extractive. Historically, that has always ended in stagnation, collapse, or revolution. Speaking of revolutions, it is impossible for one to occur within a freely-informed population without significant genuine grass-roots support.

      2. Britain has gone 400 years without a serious war on its territory.

        You mean besides the Blitz?

  3. Both Perm and Mordovia host several prison camps, some of which comprised the Soviet-era gulag system.

    If they were kept under particularly brutal house arrest, would that be a home Perm?

    Sorry, I’ll get my coat.

    (I really like that painting btw.)

  4. There are no secret camps in Russia (we are not USA). Read my other replies. Girls’ exact placement is yet undecided. And there will be visits, no doubt about that. Although, not a lot of those (several long and short ones during a year)..

  5. Cruelty for the sake of cruelty, just to scare everyone else away from considering public expression of unsanctioned thoughts. Poor girls.

  6. Here´s to the hope that shit like this will put the spark of rebellion into the minds of a generation.

  7. I’d like to remind everyone that these are grown women we are talking about.  With children of their own.  These are not girls.

    That is all.

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