Pussy-Riot-Demand-Prison-Reform

Pussy Riot Demands Russian Prison Reform

Two former Russian Pussy Riot protesters have taken to New York City to demand prison reform. Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who both served 22 month sentences before being freed under a general amnesty in December, were on hand at a panel at the 5th annual Women in the World summit moderated by Charlie Rose and author Masha Gessen.

Three women, Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were convicted in 2012 for protesting Vladimir Putin’s presidential campaign. As reported by Inquistr, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova had charges for “Religious Hatred” dropped, causing a one-month reduction in their sentence. But the pair, speaking at the summit, are by no means finished protesting their treatment.

According to The Daily Beast, the duo are forming a new coalition with the goal of zeroing in on prison rights:

“After serving their own prison terms doing hard labor, forced to sew military and police uniforms for up to 14 hours a day, the two members of Pussy Riot formed a new NGO, Zona Prava, to advocate for prisoners’ rights. With Zona Prava, the women are working on a petition to cancel forced labor in Russian prisons. They’re also questioning the moral underpinnings of the prison system itself.”

The article goes on to detail Tolokonnikova’s thoughts on what prison stands for in their eyes:

“Prison exposes ‘the way the weakest person in society is treated,'” and “It demonstrates the whole essence of the government mechanism.” The goal with Zona Prava is to “teach the government to respect the weak.”

And while the Pussy Riot pair have been freed since December, they made sure to point out to the New York audience the plight of those who are still in prison for their peaceful protests:

“Right now about 17 people are in prison on politically motivated charges and they didn’t do anything. They went out to protest and support free elections two years ago. [They] are suffering but no one knows anything about them because there is no such thing as free media in our country anymore.”

Founded in August 2011, Pussy Riot is a Russian protest punk band based in Moscow. Most recently the group was arrested for protesting the Sochi Olympics, but that protest was not met with the same level of awareness according to the Christin Science Monitor:

“Many experts say [Pussy Riot]’s message is not likely to be well received just now, amid a patriotic surge that is lifting the usually dour public mood here.”

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