Pussy Riot Member Withdraws Plea For Early Release

Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina has dropped her plea for early release to support her fellow bandmate, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

In the defendants glass cage in Moscow’s Kahmovnichesky district court are Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, from left, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich. The three Russian musicians went on trial Monday, July 30 2012. Sergei L. Loiko/Los Angeles Times / MCT

Pussy Riot band member Maria Alyokhina has dropped her plea for an early release to support her bandmate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. Both are currently serving two-year sentences for singing a protest song against Vladimir Putin in a Russian cathedral. Alyokhina explained the dropping of her pleas by saying:

“I have no moral right to take part in this court hearing at a time when my friend and fellow convict Nadezhda Tolokonnikova does not have such an opportunity.

“It is extremely strange and disgusting to me that a convict in Russia is no more than the profit-making property of the authorities. I declare my protest against this, and I declare this protest from the inside, from this pit they are pushing us all into.”

Tolokonnikova was taken to hospital in September after a nine-day hunger strike to protest the “slave labor” she was experiencing at the Corrective Colony No. 14 where she is serving her sentence. Tolokonnikova’s husband has said she started a new hunger strike on Friday after she was transferred back to prison late Thursday evening.

Tolokonnikova has claimed in a letter written from prison that she has received death threats from a senior prison official and that she and the other inmates must work up to 17 hours a day. Tolokonnikova’s accusations have been dismissed by the prison authorities, although investigators are looking into her allegations.

The court has accepted Alyokhina’s withdrawal of her appeal.

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