Pussy Riot Members Sent To ‘Harshest’ Russian Prison Camps

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were moved to Russia's 'harshest camps' to serve their two-year sentences.

Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, convicted in August on charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” following a performance critical of president Vladimir Putin, have been moved to remote prison camps within the country, according to reports.

The U.K.’s Guardian newspaper wrote on Monday (October 22) that Alyokhina will serve out the remainder of her two-year term in a women’s prison camp in Perm, “a Siberian region notorious for hosting some of the Soviet Union’s harshest camps.” Tolokonnikova has been sent to Mordovia, a region of the county that is also home to several camps.

“These are the harshest camps of all the possible choices,” Pussy Riot said on its Twitter account Monday.

When Tolokonnikova’s husband, Pyotr Verzilov spoke to MTV News last month about the group’s ongoing campaign, he admitted that the chances the two jailed members would be sent to prison camps were high, saying:

“The Russian prison system has the right — and they will — to move the girls to some Gulag-style prison camp,” he said. “[It’s] 500 miles from Moscow, a place in the middle of nowhere, and these things are really scary. It really does feel sometimes like you’re in this bad, post-War movie, but for some reason everything is too real.”

According to The Guardian, Russian prison authorities declined to comment on the women’s exact locations, adding that both Perm and Mordovia host “several prison camps.” Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova had petitioned to serve their sentences in Moscow, arguing that they wanted to be close to their children. Alyokhina has a 5-year-old son named Filipp, while Tolokonnikova and Verzilov have a 4-year-old daughter named Gera.

Originally, three members of Pussy Riot were found guilty of hooliganism after a February performance, in which they entered Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour church, stormed the soleas (or sanctuary), crossed themselves and asked the Virgin Mary to rid the country of Putin. Earlier this month, one of the group’s members, Yekaterina Samutsevich was freed, after a Moscow City judge gave her a suspended sentence after it was determined she was stopped by a guard on her way into the church and was not on hand for the performance of the group’s “punk prayer.”