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Pussy Riot Member Withdraws Prison Release Plea

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova H
Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Maria Alyokhina said she will not apply for early release, since the same option hasn't been accorded to her bandmate, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who resumed her hunger strike this week.

WARSAW – Jailed Pussy Riot musician Maria Alyokhina withdrew her application for an early release, while her bandmate, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova resumed her hunger strike on Oct. 18.

Alyokhina explained her move as a gesture of solidarity with Tolokonnikova.

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"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 opportunity," Alyokhina was quoted as saying by the Russian wire service RIA Novosti. She also called for an early release for all female convicts who have small children, just like Tolokonnikova and herself.

Meanwhile, Tolokonnikova, who was moved back from the hospital to her prison on Oct. 17, has resumed a hunger strike, according to the Twitter account of Gruppa Voina (@gruppa_voina), affiliated with Pussy Riot. Tolokonnikova’s husband, Pyotr Verzilov, explained her decision by the fact that Tolokonnikova’s demands about transferring her to another prisons were not fulfilled.

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Tolokonnikova originally went on a hunger strike on Sept. 23 out of protest against poor treatment of inmates at correctional facility #14 in Mordovia, southeast of Moscow. She suspended the hunger strike on Oct. 1 due to health complications, but said she was ready to resume if her demands were not met. Her hunger strike put the correctional facility under scrutiny, and instances of mistreatment of inmates were discovered.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova are serving two-year sentences for the anti-Putin “punk prayer” they performed at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February of 2012. They are due for release in April 2014.