Pussy Riot's member: Birthday behind bars

Father of Pussy Riot’s Tolokonnikova worried as daughter is moved to Siberian prison. Source: RIA Novosti

Father of Pussy Riot’s Tolokonnikova worried as daughter is moved to Siberian prison. Source: RIA Novosti

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of the punk-group trio, Pussy Riot, celebrated her November 7 birthday en route to a new prison in the far reaches of Siberia, where Russian authorities are relocating her to an unannounced location.

Russian authorities have begun the process of moving Nadezhda Tolokonnikova to an undisclosed location in Siberia in what supporters claim was a reaction to her hunger strikes and open letters about the prison conditions and the slave-like labor of prisoners.

Tolokonnikova’s friends and family, who have been trying to track her location during the transfer, said they believe Tolokno, as she is nicknamed, now is being transferred across Siberia with a special squad of the Federal Service for Execution and Punishment, a group that usually accompanies terrorists and leaders of organized criminal groups. Her transfer started approximately 17 days ago, but her exact destination is unknown. The governmental agency has not shared its plans, but promises to let the relatives know all the details once she arrives.

Tolokonnikova was sentenced last summer to two-years imprisonment for dancing in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in an anti-Kremlin protest in 2012.

According to her friends following her since she left the prison in Morovia, they believe she spent some time in Saransk's pretrial detention facility and then was held in a retransmission center in Tyumen. No one is sure about her whereabouts after that.

It is possible that Tolokonnikova will be brought to the penal colony located in the taiga village of Nizhniy Ingash, which is about 300 km (186 miles) from Krasnoyarsk, they said. This is a special colony for those who have been sentenced for the first time. There is a confectionary workplace, a sewing classroom and a carton department, and a garden where the prisoners plant beets, zucchini and potatoes.

The day before turned 24, "Moskovskiy Komsomolets" interviewed her father, who spoke about his daughter's childhood influences and how he envisions her future.

She probably will have to "celebrate" her 24th birthday on November 7 in a barred car somewhere on the Trans-Siberian Railway, he said.

Andrei Tolokonnikov, said that when his daughter was born, he was working as an emergency doctor in Norilsk.

“Our Nadya is a northern girl. Just like her Mother and me, she was born beyond the Polar circle,” he said.

Tolokonnikova's grandmother, Vera Ivanovna, was a big influenced on Nadezhda, her father said.

“Nadya's grandmother is a woman of principle – she is very honest, a communist, she is always ready to fight for her beliefs. Nadya had always said that she wanted to be like Vera Ivanovna,” he said. Revolutionary ideas, outbursts, hopes of making the world just and fair – this is what Nadya inherited from her grandmother, he added.

Tolokonnikova said he divorced Nadya's mother because she didn't want to leave the North and move to the capital. Nadya, then 5, stayed in Norilsk to live with her mother, and attended summer camps near the sea.

“At that time my ex-wife was still rather liberal, and she always told me where the camp was exactly located. I used to get on a train and travel to either Anapa or Sochi – I usually rented a room in a private house someplace near the camp. After that I would bring Nadya to Moscow with me,” her father said.

When she was a teenager, Nadya became interested in philosophy and history at a time when she was already very close to her father, he said. “I helped her prepare for her education in the [Moscow State University]. I told her to set goals, to dream big and to make something of your life.”

He added that ambition has always been an integral part of Nadya. “At all times there were women who were revolutionary minded, who fanatically worked toward implementing their ideas, who fought for their rights and went to jail for their beliefs,” Tolokonnikov said.

Andrei is certain that Tolokonnikova will be transferred to a remote colony as a way to cut her off from the outside world and to stop her contacting likeminded people.

However, her father said he wouldn't like for her to go into politics.

“I would have been very happy if she decided to emigrate. She could engage in public community work somewhere in France, for example, as a dissident. It is hard to say what Nadya will want. As far as I understand, she is not planning on leaving Russia. She will continue her education in the MSU and will work as a human rights activist,” he said.

First published in Russian in Moskovsky Komsomolets.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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