Pussy Riot Member Denied Parole By Russian Court

A member of punk band Pussy Riot was denied parole on Friday by a judge in Russia. The woman, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, was sentenced to prison along with two other band members for their role in a “punk prayer,” performed at Moscow’s largest Russian Orthodox Church cathedral.

The woman’s lawyer argued that Nadezhda should be freed so she can care for her small child. The lawyer added that she had no conflicts with other inmates and would have a job once she was freed.

However, a judge denied the Pussy Riot member’s parole bid, saying that she’d broken rules while in prison and did not express regret for what she had done. The judge took into account Tolokonnikova’s behavior at a penal colony in Perm, saying, “She had not always observed the rules of conduct. She has two disciplinary penalties not yet removed from her record.”

Tolokonnikova’s lawyer, Irina Khrunova, stated that her client will appeal Friday’s ruling. Tolokonnikova and another Pussy Riot member, Maria Alyokhina, were sentenced for performing the punk prayer, which was critical of President Vladimir Putin. Yekaterina Samutsevich, who was sentenced at the same time, was freed from prison in October.

Footage of the brief, yet provocative protest was posted online in February 2012. It soon received national attention. The brief footage showed band members wearing balaclavas and screaming, “Mother Mary, please drive Putin away,” inside Moscow’s Christ Savior Cathedral. The move by the feminist protest band outraged many of the Russia church’s faithful.

During Tolokonnikova’s, the Pussy Riot member told the judge, “I have spent enough time in the prison camp. I’ve had enough of studying it. Six months is time enough.” The woman, in her 20s, hoped to leave jail so she could take care of her five-year-old daughter, Gera. She presented an appeal to the courts signed by several prominent human rights activists.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have both issued reports condemning the decision by Russian courts to jail the Pussy Riot members for their punk prayer protest.

[Image via Денис Бочкарев / Denis Bochkarev]