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Politics
Two Members Of Russian Band Pussy Riot Reportedly Sent To Remote Soviet Era Prison Camps Far From Mo
October 22, 2012
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Two-Members-Of-Russian-Band-Pussy-Riot-Reportedly-Sent-To-Remote-Prison-Camps-Once-Used-During-Soviet-Era-feature1.jpg

An update today on the fate of the Russian punk band 'Pussy Riot.' According to their lawyers, two of the band members have been sent to prison camps, far from Moscow.

Back in August, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, were sentenced to two years each in prison for performing an anti-Kremlin "punk prayer" in Moscow's main cathedral.

They were convicted of hooliganism, motivated by religious hatred.

Lawyers for the women say they were told by prison officials that their clients were transferred to two separate camps.

Alyokhina was reportedly sent to a prison camp in Perm, while Tolokonnikova was sent to a camp in Mordovia - both of which are hundreds of kilometres east of Moscow.

However, the lawyers haven't been able to reach the women. "They have been sent away," one of their lawyers, Mark Feigin, told Reuters. By law, relatives must be told once someone arrives at a prison, but the trip can take days.

The conditions at both camps are said to be very tough, as they were used as mass prison colonies during the Soviet era

Russian officials haven't confirmed any of this. But according to the BBC, the Russian news website Newsru.com says both women are now quite far away from their families and fellow activists.

Alyokhina has a five-year-old son and Tolokonnikova has a four-year-old daughter.

When they performed in the cathedral in February, they called on the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of President Vladimir Putin. They said they were protesting Putin's close ties to the Orthodox Church, which is very powerful.

In fact, the Church's spiritual leader has referred to Putin's rule as "a miracle of God."

Two-Members-Of-Russian-Band-Pussy-Riot-Reportedly-Sent-To-Remote-Prison-Camps-Once-Used-During-Soviet-Era-feature2.jpg The case led to protests around the world. Critics say the sentence was too harsh and is part of a bigger crackdown by Putin, who started a new six-year presidential term in May.

The band received public support from a number of musicians including Paul McCartney, Madonna, Sting, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bjork.

The band members have been held in a Moscow prison, since March.

Earlier this month, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova lost their appeals. But a third member of the band Yekaterina Samutsevich - was freed with a suspended sentence.

Her lawyer argued that she'd been pulled away from the cathedral's altar before the protest started.

Two-Members-Of-Russian-Band-Pussy-Riot-Reportedly-Sent-To-Remote-Prison-Camps-Once-Used-During-Soviet-Era-feature3.jpg Samutsevich has since filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights, arguing their arrest was illegal, their rights to a fair trial were violated and they were treated inhumanely throughout.

She's also promised tokeep up the fight against Putin, but will be "more careful and more clever" to avoid another arrest.

Last week, lawyers asked a court to defer Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova sentences, until their children had reached the age of 14. But the court said no.

The lawyers say they also argued that the women should remain in a Moscow prison, so they could be closer to their children.

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