Pussy Riot launches prisoners’ rights NGO

Pussy Riot launches prisoners' rights NGO
Nadia Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina holding a sign with the phone number of Zona Prava's office

14 March 2014
Text Nadia Beard

Pussy Riot members Nadia Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina have launched Zona Prava (Law Zone), a non-governmental organisation which seeks to protect prisoners’ rights in Russia. The women, who spent nearly two years in prison following their anti-Putin performance in Christ the Saviour cathedral in Moscow in February 2012, revealed details of their proposed advocacy work for prisoners at a press conference yesterday.

During the conference held in Mordovia, a region 500km southeast of Moscow where Tolokonnikova was imprisoned, the women announced a hotline set up for anyone seeking legal advice. Headed by Vladimir Rubashy, a former prison psychologist, the aim of Zona Prava, according to their website, is “to help those who are deprived of freedom in a camp or in prison, but more than anything not to be prepared to lose human dignity”.

During her incarceration in Mordovia, Tolokonnikova went on a hunger strike to protest for better prison conditions and was eventually moved to a different penitentiary centre. In a video published on the local news website Pro Gorod Saransk, Alyokhina noted that Mordovia, a region that’s home to a number of Russian prisons, was in need of an organisation to campaign for prisoner rights.

The new charity is supported by Berlin-based Cinema for Peace Foundation, which will fly the two women to the US next month to promote their NGO.

Source: Hollywood Reporter