Pussy Riot Member Tolokonnikova Dissappears, Prison Service Says She's Been 'Transferred'

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has dealt with a lot. After a 40-second-long feminist performance that didn't paint a particularly flattering portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, she was put in a prison that made her sew until her fingers bled, where inmates were beaten, starved, and even forced to work naked. She went on a hunger strike to protest these horrific conditions, was hospitalized, sent back to the same prison, and then immediately resumed her hunger strike. Now, after having finally been granted the prison transfer that she'd been pleading for, she's been cut off from her family — although the Russian prison service is saying she's still in transit.

According to a report from Buzzfeed, the last her husband and father knew of her location was on October 21, when guards put her on a train to a different jail. Under Russian prison regulations, it's normal for it to take up to ten days before the family is informed where the prisoner's been transferred, exactly — but it's been twelve days now and, apart from a fellow passenger seeing the punk rocker on the train in the city of Chelyabinsk on October 24, they've heard zilch.

Soon after her husband, Pyotr Verzilov, publicly voiced his fears over her disappearance, Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service said Tolokonnikova was being sent to a new prison, and her family would hear from them...within 10 days of her arrival. As per the regulations. Of course.

“After two hunger strikes she had in October she must be still weak and physically vulnerable—I am very worried about her,” another Pussy Riot member, Yekaterina Samutsevitch, told the The Daily Beast.

Verzilov told journalists that Tolokonnikova supporters had recently been protesting near the prison and the hospital, and that he was scared that Moscow's authorities wanted to "cut her off" from society as a type of punishment. Which would be laughably ridiculous, except that the 24-year-old, along with her bandmate Maria Alyokhina, was sentenced to two years in prison after a performance that lasted for under a minute — a performance that was, yes, profanity-laced and critical of Putin, but not much else.

“Officials intend to teach Nadia a lesson for her protest behavior even behind the bars,” Verzilov said. “But they have no legal methods except for keeping her locked without a chance for her to stay in touch with us. The war goes on.”The punk rocker, in spite of suffering under horrific conditions, recently announced that she plans to start an NGO to fight for prisoner's rights in the Mordovia region (which houses one of the largest prison complexes in all of Europe). Already, thanks to her open letter and hunger strike, the Russian prison service announced that it would lower the number of hours worked by prisoners and increase their pay. She has less than six months left on her sentence. Image: Jeffrey Lewis via The Guardian