.

Missing Pussy Riot Inmate Feared to Be in Deep Siberia

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has not been been seen since October 20th

November 5, 2013 4:35 PM ET
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot.
NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/GettyImages

Jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is being relocated thousands of miles to a prison colony deep in Siberia, according to her husband Peter Verzilov. Tolokonnikova has been missing for 17 days, since she vanished into the Russian prison system to be transferred to an unknown camp. Verzilov says she is now en route to the city of Krasnoyarsk, 2,600 miles east of Moscow, in the heart of Siberia.

Inside the Pussy Riot Contoversy: Photos From the Trial That Grabbed the World's Attention

"It's 100 percent that it's Krasnoyarsk region," Verzilov told Rolling Stone by phone, saying the information came from a source in Russia's prison administration.

The exact prison colony where Tolokonnikova will be held is still uncertain, but Verzilov believes it will be Colony 50, near the town of Nizhny Ingash — 190 miles from the city of Krasnoyarsk. This camp is considerably more remote than Tolokonnikova's previous colony in Mordovia, which had been roughly a six-hour drive from Moscow. 

Her supporters suggest the authorities have chosen a prison so far from Moscow as a punishment for the nine-day hunger strike that Tolokonnikova began in September to protest conditions in her previous camp. The action, which brought unusual attention onto Russia’s harsh prison system, eventually forced officials to agree to transfer her after Tolokonnikova became dangerously weak.

"I think it could be a kind of revenge for what she has done," said Pavel Chikov, a rights defender specializing in prisons and a close advisor to Tolokonnikova. He too confirmed she was being moved to Krasnoyarsk. "It will definitely cause a lot of trouble — it's definitely not the most convenient place in the Russian Federation."

Still, Tolokonnikova’s current whereabouts remain unknown. She has not been seen since October 20th when she abruptly disappeared from Colony 14 in Mordovia, where she had been serving her two-year sentence. Since then, Verzilov has been leading a campaign to force the authorities to reveal where his wife is; a picket of the prison service’s headquarters in Moscow is now in its fifth day. Under Russian law, relatives must be informed of where a prisoner has been transferred within a 10-day period, but the vague phrasing of the law allows authorities to keep families in suspense for weeks.

Since her removal from Mordovia, Tolokonnikova’s supporters have been scrambling to try to track the activist, who initially was supposed to be moved to a camp only a few hundred miles from Moscow. This decision has seemingly radically changed. Her last sighting was on Friday in Chelyabinsk, a city 750 miles from the Mordovian camp, on the Western edge of Siberia, after a prisoner supposedly travelling with Tolokonnikova phoned Peter Verzilov to say she was with his wife. 

Verzilov’s prison source now expects Tolokonnikova to reach Krasnoyarsk by the end of the week. She will then be processed in the city’s local detention center before being settled in her new camp sometime in the next few weeks. If she is indeed headed there, Krasnoyarsk’s local prison service is refusing to give anything away  — on Tuesday a spokesman told the Russian news agency, Interfax, that Tolokonnikova had not arrived in the region.

In August 2012, Tolokonnikova and her bandmate, Mariya Alyokhina received a two-year jail sentence for participating in a punk-performance in Moscow’ Christ the Saviour Cathedral protesting the rule of president Vladimir Putin. A third bandmember, Ekaterina Samutsevich, was released with a suspended sentence in October last year.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Stillness Is the Move”

Dirty Projectors | 2009

A Wim Wenders film and a rapper inspired the Dirty Projectors duo David Longstreth and Amber Coffmanto write "sort of a love song." "We rented the movie Wings of Desire from Dave's brother's recommendation, and he had me go through it and just write down some things that I found interesting, and they made it into the song," Coffman said. As for the hip-hop connection, Longstreth explained, "The beat is based on T-Pain. We commissioned a radio mix of the song by the guy who mixes all of Timbaland's records, but the mix we made sounded way better, so we didn't use it."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com