Two Pussy Riot members sent to Russian prison camps

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Two Pussy Riot feminist punk band members have been taken to remote Russian prison camps after a court upheld their two-year sentences for mocking President Vladimir Putin in church, their lawyer said Monday.
“Nadya Tolokonnikova has been sent to Mordovia, and Maria Alyokhina to Perm,” defence lawyer Violetta Volkova told AFP. The Perm region in the Urals mountains and Mordovia in central Russia host a vast network of prison camps dating back to the Soviet era and infamous for their tough conditions.
“They were convoyed on Saturday,” Volkova said, adding that their relatives had learnt of the move when their parcels for the women were rejected at the Moscow prison where they had been temporarily held.
It remains unclear when the two young women, who both have small children, will reach their final destination, Volkova added.
The Perm region, where temperatures can fall as low as minus 50 degrees Celcius (minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit in winter, housed Stalin-era labour camps, one of which has been turned into a museum about the history of political repression. Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and their bandmate Yekaterina Samutsevich were in August sentenced to two years in prison after they staged a balaclava-clad performance inside Moscow’s main cathedral mocking President Vladimir Putin.
Earlier this month a Russian appeals court upheld the prison camp sentences against Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina but unexpectedly ordered the release of Samutsevich in what many observers believe was an attempt to split the tight-knit band.
Samutsevich told AFP in an interview ahead of the women’s departure that they were calmly preparing for a transfer that they saw as inevitable after their failed appeal.
“They understand that they will soon go to the (prison) colony. They are packing their things,” she said.
“In principle they are ready for it. They are not upset about it. We all expected that the colony would happen, we all knew it, so it’s OK, they just know that they need to go soon.”