Pussy Riot's Lives Threatened by Prison Employees

The three members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot, who were sentenced to two years in prison for performing a political protest song against Vladimir Putin, are asking to serve their time in their pretrial detention center in Moscow instead of at a remote penal colony hundreds of miles away after receiving threatening messages from prison employees.

The women's lawyer Violetta Volkova told The Daily Beast, "We have been promised that the colonies ‘would be prepared' to receive our clients. There is only one reading of it: their lives are in danger."

While Volkova states that the band members are in danger of anything "from rape to murder" at the remote prison, it's the long journey there that poses the largest threat to their safety. More than 2,000 prisoners have died in or en route to these Russian prisons in the the past six months alone, according to Russia's prosecutor general.

Known as the "etap," the train transportation lasts for several days, stopping at every jail along the way. More than twenty passengers are packed into cars meant to hold only four, and the ride has its own hazing ritual, known for its violence.

In the meantime, The Feminist Press is releasing Pussy Riot!: A Punk Prayer for Freedom, an e-book of the women's letters from prison, their courtroom statements, and poems and songs from various artists like Yoko Ono and Le Tigre.

Pussy Riot Fear for Their Lives, Ask to Serve Sentence in Moscow [The Daily Beast]
Pussy Riot! [The Feminist Press]