MOSCOW, February 22 - RAPSI. A petition urging President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s prison authorities to transfer jailed Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina from their regional penal colonies to facilities in Moscow has rapidly picked up steam.
The petition has managed to draw 64,050 signatures at the time of writing.
It states: “This summer, Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, began two-year prison sentences there for daring to stand against Vladimir Putin.” The trial was cast by many international media outlets last summer as a political speech issue couched within the framework of Russian criminal law for the sake of vanity.
Next, it declares: “Now Nadezhda has been hospitalized after toiling in prison yards around the clock - and sources say her life is in danger.”
Tolokonnikova did, in fact, go to the hospital in order to have medical tests performed. Samutsevich’s attorney Irina Khrunova was quoted as having stated that Tolokonnikova requested to go to the hospital in order to have a series of tests performed in connection with headaches that she has suffered since the spring of 2012.
Khrunova did say an earlier examination concluded that her headaches may be due to a wide variety of causes, including serious ones. As a result, it was recommended that Tolokonnikova should undergo more tests, thus giving rise to her request to visit a hospital.
In fact, the case was primarily controversial in Russia due to the country’s deeply rooted religious identity. The now infamous punk rock prayer that landed the girls in prison was performed in a sacred (and prohibited) area of the Russian Orthodox Church’s main cathedral. Thus the trial, and the public reaction it drew in Russia, rested primarily on a sense of religious offensiveness, rather than on free speech issues. Likewise, Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina, and – initially Yekaterina Samutsyevich – were sentenced for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.