Members of human rights council begin working in colony with Tolokonnikova
The commission of the Russian presidential human rights council began working on Wednesday in Penal Colony N14, where Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, convicted member of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot, is kept.
"Members of the commission will visit three colonies: Penal Colonies 14, 13, and 2. Special attention will, of course, be given to Colony 14, where Nadya is kept," Tolokonnikova's husband Pyotr Verzilov told Interfax.
Verzilov said he has recently met with a member of the commission and "received information on the situation in the colony provided by Nadya."
Besides the human rights council commission, top officials from the department of the Federal Service on the Enforcement of Punishments in the republic are visiting the colony, Verzilov said.
Verzilov also said members of the human rights council had received letters from several convicts stating that they are being pressured by the administration of the colony. The convicts said the colony officials are demanding that they not confirm facts of violations stated in the letter written by Tolokonnikova.
Human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov has called on convicted Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova to stop her hunger strike.
"She has already achieved interest in this case. The hunger strike was needed to draw attention," Ponomaryov told a pres conference held in the Interfax central office on Wednesday.
He reiterated that he is ready to call on Tolokonnikova to stop her hunger strike.
On Monday, Tolokonnikova went on a hunger strike, saying she had been receiving death threats. She has written to the Federal Service for the Enforcement of Punishments, the Investigations Committee, and human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin. Members of the presidential human rights council have left for Mordovia to check the information stated in the letter.
Meanwhile, the Federal Penitentiary Service press office said that the Tolokonnikova's husband and defense team had blackmailed the Mordovia colony deputy head, using a statement that contained threats against her.
The Investigative Directorate of the Russian Investigative Committee for Mordovia has ordered that the statement of Tolokonnikova be verified.
Gennady Morozov, the head of the public observer commission of Mordovia, told Interfax on Tuesday Tolokonnikova has been transferred to a safe place in the colony where she is serving her sentence.
Tolokonnikova went on a hunger strike on September 23, having said that she had received death threats. Tolokonnikova has written a statement regarding the hunger strike declaration to the Federal Penitentiary Service, has complained to the Investigative Committee over the threats and asked the human rights commissioner for help.
Several Pussy Riot members staged a performance at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow on February 21, 2012. The action caused great controversy in both Russia and abroad. Three Pussy Riot members, i.e. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Maria Alyokhina were detained on disorderly conduct charges. The women refused to admit their guilt, saying that they did not intend to insult believers.
The Khamovnichesky Court found Tolokonnikova, Samutsevich, and Alyokhina guilty of disorderly conduct based on religious enmity and sentenced them to two years in prison each on August 17. The Moscow City Court later upheld Tolokonnikova's and Alyokhina's sentences and suspended Samutsevich's sentence.