International

Pussy Riot member hospitalized

Prison authorities hospitalized Nadezhda Tolokonnikova on seventh day of her hunger strike

Member of the female punk band "Pussy Riot" Nadezhda Tolokonnikova looks out from a holding cell as she attends a court hearing to appeal for parole at the Supreme Court of Mordovia in Saransk, July 26, 2013.
Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

Jailed hunger-striking Pussy Riot punk band member, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who is refusing food in protest over what she has called murder threats and "slave labor conditions," was moved to a hospital Sunday, an official said.

An officer on duty at hospital No. 21 in the village of Barashevo in the Mordovia region told Agence France-Presse news agency Tolokonnikova, 23, who entered her seventh day of hunger strike Sunday, was moved earlier in the day.

The hospital is part of the prison system but is located outside the penal colony where Tolokonnikova had been held.

Tolokonnikova's husband, activist Pyotr Verzilov, said several sources among inmates and employees at the prison had told him Tolokonnikova had been moved from prison.

"We are now outside the hospital," he told AFP, adding he would seek a meeting with his wife.

Earlier Sunday, Verzilov issued an open letter addressed to the head of the Federal Service for the Execution of Punishment, which oversees Russian prisons, complaining that Tolokonnikova had been held incommunicado for more than 60 hours.

Tolokonnikova went on a hunger strike on Monday, releasing an open letter in which she described harrowing conditions at her prison.

Female inmates have to work for up to 17 hours, sleep four hours and endure repeated abuse. She also complained of what she said were death threats from the prison's deputy chief over her complaints.

On the fifth day of the hunger strike Friday, Tolokonnikova was moved to the medical unit of her penal colony after her health worsened.

Verzilov's art group, War (Voina), described her condition at the time as "terrible."

Observers have said the unrepentant activist was deliberately sent to Mordovia – notorious for its network of Soviet-era Gulag prison camps – in a bid to break her will.

Tolokonnikova and the other jailed Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina are scheduled for release in March.

The two Pussy Riot members were convicted of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred,’ charges that have been denounced by liberal Russians and public figures around the world, including Paul McCartney, Elton John and Madonna. They were arrested together with other Pussy Riot members after performing a "Punk Prayer" against the Russian Orthodox Church's close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's Church of Christ the Savior, Russia's top cathedral.

Al Jazeera and Agence France-Presse 

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