Jailed Pussy Riot Member Ends Hunger Strike

Maria Alekhina had complained that officials at her prison colony in the Ural Mountains attempted to turn fellow inmates against her with a security crackdown.

Sunday, Jun 2, 2013  |  Updated 3:30 AM EDT
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Jailed feminist punk band Pussy Riot member Maria Alekhina is seen in a cell at a court room in the town of Berezniki, some 940 miles north-east of Moscow, Russia, on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013.

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A jailed member of the punk group Pussy Riot has ended her 11-day hunger strike Saturday after prison authorities met her demands, an activist said.

Maria Alekhina had complained that officials at her prison colony in the Ural Mountains attempted to turn fellow inmates against her with a security crackdown. Inmates, who could previously enter and leave their workplace freely, had to wait for up to an hour for prison guards to escort them.

Pyotr Verzilov, the husband of Alekhina's jailed band mate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, told The Associated Press that Alekhina called Saturday to say she has ended her action after prison officials restored the normal security regime.

Verzilov said authorities took Alekhina, who was hospitalized Tuesday, on a tour across the prison colony, so that she sees that all extra security measures were removed. The extra security meant that inmates were denied prompt medical care when they sustained injuries during their work sewing uniforms.

"It looks improbable, it's not in the tradition of the prison system here to make any concessions," Verzilov said. "There must have been a political decision."

Alekhina's lawyer, Irina Khrunova, confirmed to the AP that she ended the hunger strike, but gave no further details.

Alekhina and Tolokonnikova are serving two-year sentences over an irreverent punk protest against Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral. The third band member convicted alongside them, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was later released on appeal.

Courts have denied parole to Alekhina and Tolokonnikova, who are serving their sentence in different prison colonies.

Alekhina earlier spent five months in solitary confinement after claiming that officials deliberately lodged her with hardened criminals, including a convicted murderer, and encouraged them to intimidate her.

In a complaint filed in January, Khrunova wrote that officials did nothing after seeing criminals threaten Alekhina with violence. The lawyer said officials also wrote false psychiatric reports and pushed Alekhina into violating colony rules.

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