Pussy Rioter Opts Out of ‘Absurd’ Parole Hearing, Starts Hunger StrikeS

Ready for a trip to the frightening Twilight Zone episode that is Russian punk band Pussy Riot’s continued incarceration? After being refused permission to appear at her own parole hearing and subsequently forbidding her lawyers to further represent her during the hearing, Maria Alyokhina, one of the band’s two imprisoned members, has begun a hunger strike to protest a justice system widely considered to have no dearth of Kafka-esque absurdities.

According to the Guardian, the 24-year-old Alyokhina, who was reported to have been transferred to solitary confinement back in November, was denied transportation from her prison colony in the small Ural city of Perm to her parole hearing. Alyokhina was only allowed to attend her hearing via videolink, and was further required to file all motions by fax, which necessitated, the Guardian points out, regular breaks in the hearing. Alyokhina, who on Wednesday became the highest-profile prisoner to abstain from Russia’s convoluted game of legal gaslighting, apparently has had enough.

Though the hearing was scheduled to continue into Thursday, Alyokhina refused to participate any longer and announced the beginning of her hunger strike, saying, “Let the troika sitting here – the judge, the prosecutor and the colony employee – decide my fate.”

For those in need of a refresher on the disquieting triumph of government absolutism over free expression in modern Russia, Alyokhina and her bandmates Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich were each sentenced to two years in prison last year after being found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” for performing a rousing punk song protesting Vladimir Putin inside Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral. Samutsevich’s sentence was suspended. Meanwhile, Tolokonnikova was denied parole last month, so she and Alyokhina (assuming her parole hearing meets the same dismal end) can both look forward to getting out of prison in March of next year.

Pussy Riot member begins hunger strike [Guardian]

Image via AP, Ivan Sekretarev