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Jailed Pussy Riot member gets prison move after hunger strike

By Alla Eshchenko and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Fri October 18, 2013
A picture taken on September 25 shows Nadezhda Tolokonnikova at her penal colony in the village of Partza.
A picture taken on September 25 shows Nadezhda Tolokonnikova at her penal colony in the village of Partza.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Russian authorities decide to move Nadezhda Tolokonnikova to a different prison
  • Her husband earlier said she had resumed a hunger strike in protest at conditions
  • She was hospitalized after going on hunger strike for several days last month
  • She was sentenced to two years in prison for her role in a Pussy Riot protest performance

Moscow (CNN) -- Russian authorities said Friday they have decided to move Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a jailed member of the Russian punk rock collective Pussy Riot, to a different prison.

The news came only hours after her husband, Pyotr Verzilov, told CNN that his wife had gone back on a hunger strike to protest being returned to Penal Colony No. 14, a grim prison camp in Mordovia.

Russia's Federal Service for the Enforcement of Punishments (FSIN) has not yet said where Tolokonnikova, who was sentenced to two years after being found guilty of hooliganism, has been taken.

One of her relatives will be informed of her new location no later than 10 days after her transfer to the new prison camp, it said.

A tweet posted by an art group linked to Verzilov, called Voina, said: "Flash and micro victory: FSIN reported that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will be moved to another prison."

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Tolokonnikova, 23, was sent to Mordovia last year for her part in a performance of a "punk prayer" critical of Vladimir Putin -- then the Prime Minister, now the President -- at a Russian Orthodox cathedral.

'Slave labor' claims in Mordovia prison camp

She now has less than six months left to serve. But on September 23, she declared the conditions at the prison camp to be intolerable and began a hunger strike.

She has been hospitalized since September 27, when she became so weak that doctors ordered that she be placed in the penal colony's medical ward.

She carried on the hunger strike for four more days and suffered complications because of the length of the protest, her husband said.

Verzilov warned then that Tolokonnikova would resume her hunger strike if she was sent back to Penal Colony No. 14 and conditions did not improve.

In a lengthy letter last month to the news site Lenta (a translated version was published in London's The Guardian), Tolokonnikova described "slave labor" and unsanitary conditions in which women work through sickness and injury up to 17 hours a day and are beaten -- or worse -- for failing to complete their duties.

Tolokonnikova wrote that her life was once threatened and other prisoners tell her she is not beaten only because of the celebrity her case has brought her. Others are not so lucky, she said.

Prison authorities told state news agency RIA Novosti then that Tolokonnikova was blackmailing them for denying her request for special treatment.

Maria Alyokhina, another convicted member of Pussy Riot, went on a hunger strike earlier this year, protesting conditions in a different remote prison camp. She drew attention and won concessions.

CNN's Alla Eshchenko reported from Moscow and Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London.

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