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Jailed Pussy Riot Member to Start NGO for Prison Reform

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Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova, a member of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot who’s been jailed since March 2012 for “premeditated hooliganism,” is starting a non-governmental organization (NGO) for prison reform.

“Basically, it will be an NGO to fight for prisoners’ rights in the [Mordovia] region,” Tolokonnikova’s husband, Peter Verzilov told Rolling Stone magazine by phone. “Nothing of this sort exists in this region. This will be Nadya’s main legacy from this whole situation.”

According to Verzilov, the NGO will be called Mordovlag, an abbreviation of “Mordovia Camp” in Russian, and will hire lawyers and activists to inspect the region’s prisons, visit prisoners, and assist in legal appeals, among other issues. Mordovlag will focus solely on the Mordovia region, which hosts one of Europe’s largest prison complexes, housing around 15,000 prisoners. Verzilov also said that his wife will play an active role in the NGO’s work, writing texts and serving as its public face.

Last month, Tolokonnikova made headlines with her open letter about the cruel work conditions, filthy living quarters, and mistreatment she and her fellow prisoners were experiencing. Tolokonnikova went on a hunger strike in response, and the prison recently stated that they would reduce work hours. It was also announced this weekend that, after two weeks on her hunger strike, Tolokonnikova has been moved to another prison “for her personal safety,” but no other details have been released at this time.

Photo credit: elvistudio / Shutterstock.com

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