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Pussy Riot Member Transferred to New Prison

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's family says she has disappeared after removal from penal colony

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in a single confinement cell at her penal colony on September 25th, 2013 in the village of Partza, Russia.
ILYA SHABLINSKY/AFP/Getty
November 2, 2013 3:16 PM ET

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been transferred to a new prison, officials with Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service said on Saturday. The announcement came a day after the family of the imprisoned protestor said that she had disappeared following her sudden removal from the penal colony where she was being held.

Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service had released a statement on October 18th saying that it would grant Tolokonnikova's request for a transfer from Penal Colony 14 in the region of Mordovia, where the 23-year-old has been serving out her two-year sentence for hooliganism after Pussy Riot's "Punk Prayer" protest at a Moscow cathedral. Tolokonnikova had gone on a hunger strike to protest her treatment and claimed that officials at the prison had threatened her for speaking out. 

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

Andrei Tolokonnikov, Tolokonnikova's father, told Buzzfeed on Friday that he and her husband have not been told where she is since October 21st, when she was moved from the Mordovia prison. "No one knows anything," her father said. "There’s no proof she’s alive, we don’t know the state of her health. Is she sick? Has she been beaten?"

Tolokonnikova's husband, Petya Verzilov, told Buzzfeed that she was last seen on October 24th by a fellow passenger on a train pulling into the city of Chelyabinsk in the Ural mountains. "We think they moved her to a big city to hide her," Tolokonnikov said. "It seems they got sick of these protests." Versilov added, "They want to cut her off from the outside world."

Following her family's claims that she had disappeared, the Federal Penitentiary Service explained that Tolokonnikova had been sent to a new prison, the Guardian reports. The service said that her family would be informed of her whereabouts within 10 days of her arrival, in accordance with regulations. 

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