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Two Pussy Riot members taken to Russian 'prison hell': supporters

A picture taken on October 10, 2012, shows two jailed members of the all-girl punk band "Pussy Riot," (L-R) Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, sitting in a glass-walled cage in a court in Moscow. AFP PHOTO / NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA

MOSCOW: Two members of punk band Pussy Riot have been taken to remote Russian prison colonies notorious for their harsh conditions after a court this month upheld their two-year sentences, their lawyer said on Monday.

"Nadya Tolokonnikova has been sent to Mordovia, and Maria Alyokhina to Perm," defense lawyer Violetta Volkova told AFP.

The Perm and Mordovia regions, both in central Russia, host a vast network of Soviet-era prison camps infamous for their tough conditions.

"They were convoyed on Saturday," Volkova said, noting that their relatives had learnt of the move when their parcels for the women were rejected at the Moscow prison where they had been temporarily held.

It remains unclear when the two young women, who both have small children, will reach their final destination, Volkova added.

A Twitter account organised by the band's supporters also said the two band members were taken in a "special" convoy to the prison camps, but gave no details.

"Of all the possible options, these are the cruelest prison camps," the Twitter account noted.

The art group Voina (War), which is closely affiliated with Pussy Riot, called Mordovia on Twitter "the worst prison hell there is."

Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and their bandmate Yekaterina Samutsevich were in August sentenced to two years in prison after they staged a balaclava-clad performance inside Moscow's main cathedral mocking President Vladimir Putin.

Earlier this month a Russian appeals court upheld the prison camp sentences against Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina but unexpectedly ordered the release of Samutsevich in what many observers believe was an attempt to split the tight-knit band.

 

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