Judy Mandelbaum

Judy Mandelbaum
Brooklyn, New York, United States
June 01
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AUGUST 18, 2012 11:17AM

What is awaiting Pussy Riot in their prison camp?

Rate: 5 Flag

The Russian “punk cooperative” Pussy Riot has been given a two-year sentence in a prison camp after their conviction for “hooliganism” at an anti-government demonstration in a Moscow cathedral earlier this year. This is a tough punishment for an offence that, according to some sources, would normally be covered by a $12 dollar fine, but it stays well below the seven years that had originally been under discussion when the trial opened in early August.

So what is awaiting the three young women in their camp? According to the Russian media and the AFP wire service, currently 59,000 women are being held in fifty camps scattered across the Russian Federation. Russian prison camps are surrounded by barbed wire and watchtowers, and consist of administrative buildings, dormitory barracks, and work areas. The women wear green uniforms and are awakened every morning at six for roll call, which is held outdoors as long as the temperature is above -22° F. The prisoners sleep in barracks containing between 100 and 120 inmates and have three meters of personal space each. Hygiene is poor and privacy is a rare commodity.

Pussy Riot 

While this might sound like a scenario out of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, Russian camps have cleaned up their act since the fall of communism. The Pussy Riot members will be given “normal treatment” as long as they abide by camp rules. By some accounts, female prisoners can receive unlimited packages (although this figure is in dispute). They are allowed to spend up to $370 of their own money each month and can also earn between $30 and $60 per month sewing government uniforms. This labor is voluntary, however.

Unlike gulag prisoners, today’s female inmates may receive visitors: Up to six brief visits of up to four hours and four long visits of up to three days every year. For the long visits from spouses or family members, the women are granted a separate room. Non-family members must be cleared first by the authorities. They may telephone once a month for not longer than fifteen minutes.

The rules are extremely strict and violations are normally punished by the denial of privileges and isolation.

But although camp conditions have improved markedly since Stalin’s day, the experience is likely to be harrowing for the three young women. They will be living side by side with convicted murderers and thieves for two whole years. Violent clashes between rival gangs and individual prisoners are endemic. Visitation privileges will probably concern them most, since two of them Nadeshda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, have small children at home, from whom they have been separated for six months already.

 Femen Kiev

A topless demonstrator from the feminist "Femen" movement chainsaws a Christian monument in Kiev out of solidarity with Pussy Riot

Many observers in Russia anticipate that the women will be released early “so that these idiots can go home and see their children and relatives,” as the newspaper Komosomolskaya Pravda wrote today. If not, then their sentence represents a strong punishment for sixty seconds of anti-Putin “punk prayer.” If prison camp life doesn’t break their spirits, the destruction of their young families might just do the trick. Whether or not Pussy Riot repents its behavior, the message for the rest of Russian society couldn’t be clearer: You don’t mess with Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church.



Photos: Reuters, Komsomolskaya Pravda



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They might start a pussy riot in cell block number 9.
They're three very lucky young women. If they'd tried that in the "Land of the Free and Home of the Brave", they'd probably have been torn to pieces!

I'm an atheist but even I know that one does not offer such disrespect to the people that are in attendance in a church. A political protest belongs in a political venue - not a religious one. Perhaps in 2 years they'll understand the difference.

I'm in no way justifying their actions, although I do recognize that they are rebelling against a stifling alliance of Throne and Altar of a kind not seen since the days of the tsars, and so protest forms are likely to get a little extravagant. (Femen does most of theirs topless.) If we feel that we're beyond the need for such juvenile displays in our society, then we're very lucky. Young Russians, not so much.
The sentences they received are simply outrageous. So very sad.
Sorry, forgot to say rated and thanks for posting this info.
They've nothing for which to repent. It's Putin and the church who must repent, apologize and make reparations to the girls if they ever hope to save themselves.
Ha ha ! Would ya look'it that !

Look who's wanting them Rooshin leaders "held to a higher standard" and sympathizing with arrogant, unthinking, unfeeling brats who choose to offer their offensive political protest in a church while believers were in attendance at a religious service. Have you forgotten that they were NOT invited?

Not one of you would be hollering for anything less than capital punishment if that happened in YOUR church!! Those girls would be tarred & feathered and beaten black & blue!

Can you not escape the anti-Russian propaganda still stuck in your heads from the cold war days?

Let me remind you of something: "Those who live in glass houses ought not to throw stones."

And one more: "DoI hear the pot calling the kettle black?"

Those women had far, far more warnings than YOUR (or MY) government would have given them.

Your sanctimonious expressions of outrage ring very hollow indeed.