Russian Court Denies Parole to Jailed Pussy Riot Member

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Band members of Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich

Among those who addressed the court supporting Nadezhda Tolokonnikova’s parole application was U.S. singer Patti Smith.

MOSCOW – On April 26, Zubovo-Polyansky District Court in Russia’s Republic of Mordovia rejected a parole application by jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

The court ruled that Tolokonnikova, 23, will have to serve the entire two-year sentence imposed on her for the anti-Putin “punk prayer” at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012. Tolokonnikova and another Pussy Riot Member, Maria Alyokhina, were eligible for early release after serving one half of their sentence.

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Speaking in court, Tolokonnikova said she still considers herself not guilty but doesn’t see it as an obstacle to her release on parole. She also complained of health problems that can’t be properly addressed while she is in prison.

“In prison, my headaches have worsened, and doctors say it is due to stress,” she said.

Earlier that day, Russian producer Alexander Cheparukhin published on his Facebook account a letter sent by US singer Patti Smith to Zubovo-Polyansky District Court, in which she calls for Tolokonnikova’s early release.

“I am convinced that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's further incarceration is harmful not only for her, but for society in general, as it contributes to a climate of social intolerance, divides society and works towards its radicalization,” reads the letter by Smith. “Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has a 5-year-old daughter who suffers away from her mother. Every day in separation does irreparable harm to the little girl, which is another grave argument in favor of releasing Nadezhda Tolokonnikova on parole.”

Tolokonnikova’s lawyer Irina Khrunova said she would prepare an appeal.