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Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova launches hunger strike

‘Start treating us like humans’


 

Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

One of the members of the Russian band Pussy Riot is launching a hunger strike, a year after she was jailed in a penal colony on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

In a translated letter published in the Guardian Nadezhda Tolokonnikova writes that she is launching a hunger strike, beginning Sept. 23, to protest slave-like conditions in her prison camp.

Tolokonnikova’s punishment comes after she, and two other bandmates, stormed the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow in 2012 and gave an impromptu performance to protest President Vladimir Putin and what they say are his increasing ties to the Russian Orthodox Church. Tolokonnikova is serving a two-year sentence in Penal Colony No. 14, which is in the Mordovian village of Parts.

In the labour camp, Tolokonnikova writes that she, and other women working in the sewing shop, are forced to work 16-17 hours every day of they week, with only one day off every month and a half. Prisoners get only four hours of sleep a night, she writes.

Prisoners are punished by having their rights to food and drink, or their right to use the washroom, revoked, Tolokonnikova writes. When food is provided, it is of poor quality, including “stale bread, heavily watered-down milk, exclusively rusted millet and rotten potatoes.”

Others are beaten for failing to meet unattainable work quotas. The punishments proceeds, even if their sewing machines break down, she writes.

“Thinking only of sleep and a sip of tea, the harassed and dirty prisoner becomes obedient putty in the hands of the administration, which sees us solely as free slave labour,” Tolokonnikova writes.

Hygiene conditions in the camp are atrocious, she goes on to write, with 800 prisoners made to bathe in a room built for five. When plumbing breaks, it isn’t fixed, Tolokonnikova writes. “When the plumbing breaks down, urine splashes and clumps of feces fly out of the hygiene rooms. We’ve learned to unclog the pipes ourselves, but our successes are short-lived — they soon get stopped up again. The colony does not have a snake for cleaning out the pipes. We get to do laundry once a week. The laundry is a small room with three faucets pouring weak streams of cold water.”

She writes that she will continue her hunger strike until the prison follows the labour laws, shortens the work day and “until they start treating us like humans.”


 
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Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova launches hunger strike

  1. This Vladimir is still in the WW2 when we are in 2013.

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