Putin as NapoleonI must give credit where credit is due:  the following article is a reprint of one that I found online at AU – a Russian website that focuses on Russian news, media, culture, etc and since this particular story is so, well, foreign to…uh…just about anyone from any other country in the world except maybe Azerbaijan, North Korea, Iran, Syria and China, it is so disgustingly fascinating – like a bad car wreck you can’t take your eyes off…it’s the story about that Russian punk band, translated as “Pussy Riot” – they’ve been tried & convicted (is there any other outcome in Russia since the short time Yeltsin was in charge) in a Russian court for writing “offensive” lyrics.  Now, they’ve really been given a harsh time – they’re doing time in a Stalin-esque prison-gulag out in the middle of nowhere.  Where are all the Hollywood “justice” seekers and loudmouths who bitch and moan about human rights and free speech and all that?  WHY ISN’T BONO IN RUSSIA RIGHT NOW TRYING TO FREE THEM?

Well – here is the article – again, thank you very much to AU for not minding me borrowing this story.  Enjoy!  – KM

Pussy Riot members sent to ‘prison hell’

  • Marina Lapenkova
  • AAP
  • October 22, 2012 11:43PM

Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, centre, and Maria Alyokhina have been sent to “cruel” Russian prison camps to live out their sentences.

TWO Pussy Riot feminist punk band members have been taken to remote Russian prison camps after a court upheld their two-year sentences for mocking President Vladimir Putin in church, their lawyer says.

“Nadya Tolokonnikova has been sent to Mordovia, and Maria Alyokhina to Perm,” defence lawyer Violetta Volkova told AFP on Monday.

The Perm region in the Urals mountains and Mordovia in central Russia host a vast network of prison camps dating back to the Soviet era and infamous for their tough conditions.

“They were convoyed on Saturday,” Volkova said, adding that their relatives had learned of the move when their parcels for the women were rejected at the Moscow prison where they had been temporarily held.

It remains unclear when the two young women, who both have small children, will reach their final destination, Volkova said.

Tolokonnikova’s husband, activist Pyotr Verzilov, told the Moscow Echo radio station that according to his unconfirmed information, the women were not sent by train as is usual but “were sent by air in special flights”.

A Twitter account organised by the band also said the two members were taken in a “special” convoy to the prison camps, but gave no details.

“Of all the possible options, these are the cruelest prison camps,” the Twitter account @pussy_riot noted.

The art group Voina (War), which is closely affiliated with Pussy Riot, on Twitter called Mordovia “the worst prison hell there is”.

The city of Perm, the region’s capital, is about 1400 kilometres from Moscow, while the regional capital of Mordovia, Saransk, is about 640km from Moscow.

The Perm region, where temperatures can fall as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius in winter, housed Stalin-era labour camps, one of which has been turned into a museum about the history of political repression.

Mordovia is a region dotted with lakes that is chiefly known for its prison camps dating back to the Stalin era. In the 1930s and ’40s, the prison population here numbered 23,000 prisoners, according to the regional prison service’s website.

The region now has 17 prison camps, the prison service said.

The choice of distant camps appears to be deliberate to make it harder for the public to follow what happens to the women, rights activist Lev Ponomaryov told Moscow Echo.

“Evidently the women have been sent to distant colonies so it’s harder for the Pussy Riot members to contact relatives and lawyers, and also it’s harder for the public to check on their fate,” said the leader of For Human Rights group.

Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and their bandmate Yekaterina Samutsevich were in August sentenced to two years in prison after they staged a balaclava-clad performance inside Moscow’s main cathedral mocking Putin.

A Russian appeals court this month upheld the prison camp sentences against Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina but unexpectedly ordered the release of Samutsevich in what many observers believe was an attempt to split the tightly knit band.

Samutsevich told AFP in an interview ahead of the women’s departure that they were calmly preparing for a transfer that they saw as inevitable after their failed appeal.

“They understand that they will soon go to the (prison) colony. They are packing their things,” she said.

“In principle they are ready for it. They are not upset about it. We all expected that the colony would happen, we all knew it, so it’s OK, they just know that they need to go soon.”

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