Russian Court Upholds Denial of Parole for Pussy Riot Member
MOSCOW – The denial to grant parole to Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was upheld on Friday by an appeal court in a move similar to a court decision made earlier this week with regards to band member Maria Alyokhina.
Unlike Alyokhina, who wasn’t present at her case’s hearing in the Siberian town of Solikamsk on July 24 but took part in it via video conferencing, Tolokonnikova was brought to a courthouse in Saransk, a city located 650 km southeast of Moscow.
Speaking in court, Vladimir Klinov, deputy head of the prison in which Tolokonnikova is serving a two-year sentence for a "punk prayer" protest against president Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s main cathedral in February of 2012, said that the feminist punk rocker “failed to repent or admit her guilt,” gazeta.ru reported.
Although under Russian law an inmate’s failure to admit their guilt should not have an impact on a parole decision, the court apparently took sides with the prosecutor.
In her address to the court, Tolokonnikova said that she has “differences” with the management of the prison. “My understanding of correction doesn’t correspond to that of the head of the prison,” she was quoted as saying by the wire service RAPSI. “But that doesn’t mean that I am bad or he is bad. I have the right to have my own aesthetics.”
“I will be glad if I leave the prison upon the end of my sentence and they won’t give me extra prison time, as was the case with [Mikhail] Khodorkovsky,” Tolokonnikova was quoted as saying on the Twitter account of the art group Voina, affiliated with Pussy Riot.
Irina Khrunova, a lawyer for Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, dismissed the arguments against granting Tolokonnikova parole as “ridiculous,” adding that they won’t challenge the verdict, focusing instead on the next parole opportunity, which is to turn up in three months.
If Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are not granted parole, they are to be released from prison in March of 2014. Another Pussy Riot musician, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was also initially sentenced to two years in prison, but was released on probation last October.