Pussy Riot - Officials Reject Russian Punk Star's Jail Complaint

Officials in Russia have rejected Pussy Riot star Maria Alekhina's claims of poor treatment in prison, insisting staff are "astonished" by her complaint as she is enjoying "unique and privileged" conditions behind bars.

The musician-turned-political activist, who is serving a two-year jail term for hooliganism, lodged an official objection to life at a prison colony in the Ural Mountains where she is being held, and went on hunger strike for 11 days over the facility's strict security measures.

The region's Public Oversight Commission launched a probe and inspected conditions at Berezniki prison in Perm Krai, but they have now ruled Alekhina's complaints were largely unfounded and revealed she has more privileges than most other inmates.

In its report into Alekhina's case, the commission states, "After verifying (her) complaints, the commission members cannot agree with most of them. The facts listed as violations of her rights are actually routine components of a penitentiary establishment's operation, and not the results of the unjustified tightening of the regime or a violation of human rights.

"In fact we were astonished by the unique and privileged conditions provided to (Alekhina) in prison. She is allowed to see one of her lawyers or friends from Moscow almost on a daily basis. The meetings can last three or four hours."

Alekhina and her fellow Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich were each sentenced to two years in jail last year (12) for performing a protest song against Russian President Vladimir Putin at a church in Moscow in February (12). Samutsevich was freed in October (12) when her sentence was commuted.


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