Convicted Pussy Riot members still hope to be left to serve term in Moscow - lawyer

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, members of the Pussy Riot punk band, who were recently sentenced to two years in prison for a controversial performance at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012, expect to be left at detention facility No. 6 in Moscow to serve their sentences rather than be sent to a penitentiary elsewhere in Russia, says Mark Feigin, a lawyer for Tolokonnikova.

"The board of detention facility No. 6 will decide on Monday who of those convicted will be left there to serve their sentences. There are 12 candidates for 3 vacancies," Feigin said on Twitter on Saturday.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are among the candidates, he said.

"Administration 6 [the detention facility administration] has treated them [Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina] fairly well over these months. We expect the chief of detention facility No. 6 to make the necessary decisions and leave Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina in Moscow," Feigin said.

Kristina Belousova, a spokesperson for the Russian Federal Corrections Service, told Interfax on Oct. 10 that Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina would be transferred to a penitentiary to serve their prison terms within the next ten days.

Belousova said the administration of the detention facility where the women have been held since their detention and throughout their trial has considered their request for permission to serve their term there.

"Convicts may be allowed to serve their term at their detention facility on condition that the term does not exceed six months, or if the need exists for service personnel. The number of inmates allowed to stay at the detention facility for doing this particular job is sufficient, and there are no plans to expand the personnel," Belousova said.

Several Pussy Riot members wearing balaclavas staged what they described as a punk prayer at the Christ the Savior Cathedral on Feb. 21. The stunt evoked broad public response in Russia and abroad. Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were detained on disorderly conduct charges soon afterwards.

Moscow's Khamovnichesky Court sentenced the three women to 2 years in a general security penitentiary on August 17.

The Moscow City Court ruled on Oct. 10 to uphold Tolokonnikova's and Alyokhina's conviction and suspend Samutsevich's sentence. Samutsevich was released from detention at the courtroom.

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