Two Remaining Pussy Riot Members Sent to Prison Camps Once Used as Gulags

The two remaining members of Pussy Riot convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" have been sent to prison camps. The move comes almost two weeks after one of the members originally convicted, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed after her legal team successfully argued that she should not serve the same sentence as the other two members. Samutsevich is now taking to case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Maria Alyokhina has been sent to the Perm region in the Ural Mountains, once the home of over 150 camps in the Soviet Union’s vast Gulag apparatus. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been sent to Mordovia, south east of Moscow, a part of Russia with a similarly grim recent history.

The Australian Herald Sun summarized the conditions facing the two women:

The city of Perm, the region's capital, is about 1400 kilometres from Moscow, while the regional capital of Mordovia, Saransk, is about 640km from Moscow.

The Perm region, where temperatures can fall as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius in winter, housed Stalin-era labour camps, one of which has been turned into a museum about the history of political repression.

Mordovia is a region dotted with lakes that is chiefly known for its prison camps dating back to the Stalin era. In the 1930s and '40s, the prison population here numbered 23,000 prisoners, according to the regional prison service's website.

The region now has 17 prison camps, the prison service said.

The choice of distant camps appears to be deliberate to make it harder for the public to follow what happens to the women, rights activist Lev Ponomaryov told Moscow Echo.

A twitter account set up for the group (@pussy_riot) sent out the following:

Nadia was on the weekend special flight was transferred to Mordovia, and Masha - in Perm. This is the most brutal camps of all possible options. 

Russia has come under strong international criticism over the case, and the two-year sentences handed down were significantly less disproportionate than they could have been. Moving Maria and Nadezhda to such harsh environments might be a way for officials to hand down a comparatively lenient time in prison while still inflicting a severe punishment.

It is a shame that Russia will almost certainly not come up in tonight’s Presidential debate. For better or worse Russia is going to play an increasingly influential role in global politics. It might be worth Obama and Romney giving it at least a passing mention. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "It is a shame that Russia will almost certainly not come up in tonight’s Presidential debate."

    I think it's more of a blessing. Lord knows what they'll promise to look like they're tough on Russia.

  • R C Dean||

    Eh. They'll be more flexible after the elections, as Putin has been informed.

  • ||

    Russia...still has prison camps?

  • Pro Libertate||

    If you want to understand Russia, understand this--nothing really changes there.

  • ||

    I understand that they make big trouble for pussy and riot.

  • Pro Libertate||

    They're a net exporter of both.

  • BakedPenguin||

    If you want to understand Russia, understand this--nothing really changes there.

    I wouldn't say nothing, Pro Lib. The one member of the band who was not at the event got off.

    So guilt-by-association is no longer proof in Russian courts, at least when it's blatantly obvious.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I was just engaging in Russian hyperbole.

  • Generic Stranger||

    What do you expect when an ex-KGB guy runs the country?

    KGB members should have been treated like the SS: hunted until every single one is round up and either imprisoned or shot. Instead, Russia elects one as their president.

  • ||

    Soviet apparatchiks were never forced to pay for their crimes.

  • John||

    No they were not. In the late 1960s Molotov and Krustchev, who along with Yhezov and Beria were responsible for perpetrating Stalin's worst crimes, lived quiet lives in Moscow shopping at the party member stores and living in nice houses. Even in the old USSR, the party members were repulsed by their very existence. People would sort of look away and never speak to them.

  • A Serious Man||

    Krenshaw: Damnit Archer, do you think this is a game?

    Archer: No, I think that Jenga is a game.

    Krenshaw: But what if I had been real KGB?

    Archer: Then I think you'd be too buy trying to suck a promotion out of some Russian guy's cock.

  • robc||

    Whats the drinking game rule for Romney saying "Pussy Riot"?

  • ||

    You have to do a whole can of Sterno.

  • SugarFree||

    And no being a sissy and burning off half of it first.

  • ||

    If you don't get temporarily blinded, you're a complete pussy.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    This seems like a real opportunity for an....adult....movie.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Chained Heat IV: Seventh inning Fetch?

  • tarran||

    Will there be realistic levels of mosquitoes and fat prison guards?

  • Tim||

    If great art comes from great suffering these women will be famous.

  • NeonCat||

    They'll probably sell out their reunion tour.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    If they didn't want to be sent to the gulag they shouldn't have been Russian in the first place.

  • db||

    The city of Perm, the region's capital, is about 1400 kilometres from Moscow, while the regional capital of Mordovia, Saransk, is about 640km from Moscow.

    The Perm region, where temperatures can fall as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius in winter, housed Stalin-era labour camps,

    Surely Spock can find and rescue Pussy Riot from Rura Penthe?

  • ||

    Neither of them looks like Iman, though.

  • A Serious Man||

    In new Soviet Russia, gulag once used you!

  • John||

    Could any place have a more depressing name than Mordovia?

  • Tim||

    Shitpackistan and the Douch Peninsula?

  • Corneliusm||

    One does not simply walk into Mordovia...

  • Corneliusm||

    ...Comrade.

  • db||

    The move comes almost two weeks after one of the members originally convicted, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed after her legal team successfully argued that she should not serve the same sentence as the other two members. Samutsevich is now taking to case to the European Court of Human Rights.

    Good for her fightothers in international court, but I bet she feels like shit for getting a lighter sentence than the others. Plus, since she's no longer in prison, want to bet the Euro court holds that she lacks standing to challenge her compatriots' sentences?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Russia is a shit hole, Spain is a shit hole, Italy is a shit hole, among others.

    America tends to be a shit hole in similar ways to where I see no good reason to stay, but no motivation to make it worth the trouble of leaving.

    Fuck the world.

  • JeremyR||

    Considering that Reason is now whining about this every day, just exactly should the US do?

    Declare a war? Trade embargo? A really stern letter from Hilary?

    If Reason is so serious about this, why not boycott Russia Today, which is a propaganda arm of the Russian government?

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement