Russia isolates Pussy Riot member from fellow inmates

Pussy riots

One of the jailed members of Russia's punk band Pussy Riot has been transferred to solitary confinement after complaining of poor relations with other inmates, officials said today.

Maria Alyokhina, 24, who is serving a two-year sentence for the group's anti-Vladimir Putin performance in Russia's main Orthodox Cathedral, was moved to a "safe" place in the prison camp in the Perm region, an official with the regional prison service told AFP.

"Alyokhina was moved to a safe place from the general unit on Wednesday evening after she wrote a letter to the prison authorities asking to be transferred," he said.

"The reason for the move is that she has poor relations with other prisoners," he said, without elaborating.

Alyokhina, who was transferred to the remote Berezniki prison camp in Perm last month, will remain isolated from other inmates for three months unless she requests to be moved back, the prison official said.

"After that the prison administration will think of what to do next," he said.

Tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda said today that Alyokhina complained to her relatives over the phone that other prisoners were making threats against her and asked rights organisations to support her.

Alyokhina and fellow band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were sentenced in August to two years in prison for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after they performed a "punk prayer" in a Moscow cathedral last February.

Bandmate Yekaterina Samutsevich was released on appeal with a suspended sentence because guards grabbed her before she could take part in the performance. Tolokonnikova is serving her sentence in another colony in central Russia's

Mordovia region.

Amid some controversy, the jailed women this week fired their high-profile legal team and hired other lawyers, notably one who helped free Samutsevich.

Unlike the initial defence trio, who frequently commented on the case on Twitter, their new attorneys have spoken little about their defence strategy.

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