MOSCOW (Reuters) - One of the jailed members of Russian punk protest collective Pussy Riot has been moved to a prison with a hospital after suffering headaches and fatigue, her bandmate said in remarks broadcast on Friday.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, was one of three women sentenced to two years in prison for a “punk prayer” in Russia’s main cathedral last February in which they called on the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Vladimir Putin.
Tolokonnikova was sent to a Corrective Colony No. 14 in the Mordovia region after losing her appeal in October.
“She has been complaining about her health for a long time, and a decision was taken to move her to a neighbouring (prison) colony where there is a hospital,” her bandmate Yekaterina Samutsevich told Internet and cable channel Dozhd.
She said Tolokonnikova had suffered headaches for months and was exhausted from labour at the prison, where she reportedly has been working at a sewing machine. She said she had been moved to the other prison several days ago.
“The problem is, they don’t let her rest after the shift,” said Samutsevich. “After the shift, they give them more tasks, and she is just working round the clock. She complains of fatigue, huge fatigue.”
Samutsevich said she believed Tolokonnikova was being monitored but not actively treated, and she did not specify whether she was hospitalised at all times. Prison authorities could not immediately be reached.
Tolokonnikova, Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina were convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” for their protest in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour cathedral, which the dominant Russian Orthodox Church cast as part of a coordinated attack.
The band said they were protesting the close ties between the government and the church, whose leader praised Putin during his successful campaign for a March 2012 presidential election after four years as prime minister.
Kremlin critics called the jailing of Pussy Riot part of a drive to silence dissent during Putin’s new term. He has dismissed Western criticism of their jailing, saying the state must protect the faithful and guard against religious discord.
Samutsevich was freed in October when her sentence was suspended on appeal. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina have about 13 months left in their sentences, which are counted from their arrests last March.
Reporting by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Lisa Shumaker