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Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova Has Disappeared

Without much fanfare Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda (Nadya) Tolokonnikova has disappeared.

Her family has yet to hear from her following a prison transfer on October 21st.

Originally reported and announced on November 1st– today marks the 19th day that her husband Pyotr Verzilov has been in the dark as to her actual location.

Verzilov has information that leads him to believe that Nadya has been moved to a Siberian prison as a sort of punishment stating:

“They do not have the ability to put on the usual psychological or physical pressure they can use with inmates because of the high profile of the case. So they have chosen this as the punishment instead.

Nadya launched a widely covered hunger strike this past September protesting prison treatment. She’s currently serving a two year sentence for “hooliganism” after her band Pussy Riot performed an anti-Putin song inside a Moscow church.

As the New York Times reports, the initial hunger strike was called off after Nadya’s hospitalization ten days later, at which point she was under the belief that she would be transferred to a new prison.  When the transfer didn’t take place she attempted another hunger strike and then disappeared.  Her family has been told that she’s being transferred to a new prison and while it’s not unusual for inmates to go without contact during a prison transfer – Nadya’s family should be informed of her new whereabouts within ten days of her arriving – the nature of her case and fact that Russian authorities don’t take kindly to dissidents makes the past 19 days of silence particularly deafening.

The BBC reports that yesterday Amnesty International intervened to urge Russian authorities to allow Nadya contact with a lawyer and to give her family information on her whereabouts.  Her lawyer Irinia Khrunova has filed an appeal with the Russian Supreme Court but also confirms that she has not been able to speak to Nadya because “they are hiding her.”

Speaking to The GuardianRussian human rights ombudsman Vladmir Lukin says that he’s been told by Russian officials that Nadya is in “satisfactory health” and was transferred to a new prison.

Still, those reports have not been confirmed by her actual family who is still frantically trying to contact her. Verzilov is continuing to post updates from Twitter through the handle @gruppa_voina.

A petition from watchdog.net demanding information on her whereabouts currently has nearly 37,000 signatures.

Today marks Nadya’s 24th birthday.

We hope she’s heard from soon.

Photo by EOR Photography from a 2012 Pro-Pussy Riot rally in London, used under Creative Commons license

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Sara Haile-Mariam

Sara Haile-Mariam

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