Pussy Riot’s former members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are suing the Russian government over their imprisonment for a protest in a Moscow cathedral.
Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova say their prosecutions amounted to torture.
They have filed a case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against Russia, seeking compensation.
Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are demanding 120,000 euros each in damages, plus 10,000 euros court costs.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikov’s father, Andrey, said the pair should have asked for greater compensation.
“What can I say? Good girls! But, in my opinion, the requested amount is too small,” he said.
Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are suing the Russian government over their imprisonment for a protest in a Moscow cathedral
“They should have requested 250 million euros, not 250,000 euros,” he told the popular Russian newspaper Moskovskiy Komsomolets.
Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were among five Pussy Riot members who donned balaclavas in February 2012 and tried to perform their song Mother of God, Drive Putin Out, in the Christ the Savior Cathedral, near the Kremlin.
The performance was interrupted by staff at the cathedral and they were arrested along with a third member of the group.
Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were sentenced to two years in prison each after being convicted of hooliganism.
They both served 21 months in prison and pre-trial detention.
Their story was covered widely, and they were viewed sympathetically in western countries.
Their actions were seen as blasphemous by many Russians, and were condemned by the Orthodox Church.
The two Pussy Riot members opened their action at the ECHR in June 2012, while their own cases in Russia were still ongoing.
They argued that their detention and trial had violated European Convention of Human Rights articles which prohibit torture and guarantee freedom of expression, security and liberty, and a fair trial. Russia is a signatory to the convention.
Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot have signed an open letter insisting Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova not be billed as members.
The letter said Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova had forgotten about the “aspirations and ideals of our group”.
Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova performed alongside Madonna at a concert in New York on Wednesday.
They were jailed for two years after singing a protest song in a Moscow cathedral in 2012 but were freed in December.
Known as “Masha” and “Nadia”, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova spent 16 months in prison.
Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova performed alongside Madonna at a concert in New York
The six members of the collective who signed the letter – Garadja, Fara, Shaiba, Cat, Seraphima and Schumacher – say they wish to remain anonymous.
They said that their group belonged to a “leftist anti-capitalist ideology” but that the pair had become “institutionalized advocates of prisoners’ rights”.
The letter read: “Unfortunately for us, they are being so carried away with the problems in Russian prisons, that they completely forgot about the aspirations and ideals of our group – feminism, separatist resistance, fight against authoritarianism and personality cult, all of which, as a matter of fact, was the cause for their unjust punishment.”
The remaining members of the group criticized Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova for appearing at the Amnesty International concert in New York.
“Our performances are always <<illegal>>, staged only in unpredictable locations and public places not designed for traditional entertainment,” the group said.
The group said that although Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova had repeatedly stressed they were no longer members, the public announcement before their speech spoke of “the first legal performance of Pussy Riot”.
The letter did praise the former members for their new cause.
“Yes, we lost two friends, two ideological fellow member (sic), but the world has acquired two brave, interesting, controversial human rights defenders – fighters for the rights of the Russian prisoners.”
However, it added: “Unfortunately, we cannot congratulate them with this in person, because they refuse to have any contact with us.”
Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will appear at a concert promoting human rights in New York City, its organizer has said.
Amnesty International says Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will appear at a February 5 concert in New York’s Brooklyn borough.
Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova spent 16 months in prison after their arrest in August 2012 for singing a protest song in a Moscow cathedral.
Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will appear at a concert promoting human rights in New York City
They were freed last month in what they derided as a publicity stunt.
“A month ago, we were freed from Russian prison camps,” Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said in a joint statement.
“We will never forget what it’s like to be in prison after a political conviction. We have vowed to continue helping those who remain behind bars.”
It is not clear whether they will perform at the concert at the Barclay’s Center, which will feature The Flaming Lips, Imagine Dragons, Lauryn Hill and Tegan and Sara, among others, according to promotional material released by Amnesty International.
Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been found in a prison hospital in western Siberia, her husband announced.
Pyotr Verzilov has spoken to his wife for the first time since she went missing 26 days ago.
He said she was undergoing tests for “various conditions” at the Tuberculosis Hospital No 1 in Krasnoyarsk.
But he added that she does not have tuberculosis.
Pyotr Verzilov said his wife had told him that conditions at the hospital were much better than at the penal colony in Mordovia, where she had been held previously, and that she had not been beaten during the 26 days she was missing.
Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been found in a prison hospital in western Siberia
Russian prison authorities issued a statement confirming that “convict Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has arrived to the institution of the Russian prison service in the Krasnoyarsk region”.
A spokesman said her exact location had been sent to her lawyer, who had instructions not to tell anyone else.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and two other Pussy Riot band members were sentenced to two years in jail last year, after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral. In the song they implored the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out”.
They were charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.
One member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on appeal in October.
After her appeal attempt failed, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova went on hunger strike. She had complained of abuses by prison staff at Mordovia, including working long hours and being denied drinking water in her prison cell. She was moved to a medical unit and her whereabouts were unknown since October.
Pussy Riot band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been moved from prison to a medical unit at the penal colony where she is on hunger strike.
The news about Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was reported on Twitter by her husband, Pyotr Verzilov.
“Nadya is now in hospital, but they’re refusing to provide documents about that, or to meet the defence [team]. A blockade has begun,” he said.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has complained of abuses by the prison staff in Mordovia.
Her lawyer Dmitry Dinze, quoted by Russian media, said she was very weak, with low blood pressure and low blood sugar. She began a hunger strike on Monday.
Dmitry Dinze was also quoted as saying the administrators of penal labor colony No 14, where she is serving a two-year sentence, had been summoned to Moscow. It is not yet clear what the Moscow consultation is about.
After she went on hunger strike, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was moved to an isolation cell for her own safety, the prison authorities said.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been moved from prison to a medical unit at the penal colony where she is on hunger strike
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and another band member, Maria Alyokhina, were jailed after performing a crude protest song in a Moscow cathedral. A third band member was released on appeal.
Their act was regarded as blasphemous by many Russians, but their prosecution caused an international outcry.
Mordovia, some 275 miles east of Moscow, has labor camps dating back to the notorious Gulag system set up by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
Requests by Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina for parole were rejected. Nadezhd Tolokonnikova’s release date is expected to be March 3rd, 2014.
On Thursday Nadezhda Tolokonnikova alleged that she had been left without drinking water in her cell and that a guard had grabbed her arms and shoulders. She described it as the first use of physical force against her, and urged the authorities to transfer her to a different prison.
The prison service denied her account, saying her water bottles had been replaced with warm water on doctors’ advice and physical force had not been used against her.
In a letter released to media this week, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said she had complained that she faced threats from other inmates, and also about long hours of forced labor.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said female inmates were treated like “slaves”, working 17 hours a day sewing police uniforms.
If they failed to meet their quotas they were punished by being denied food, prevented from using the bathroom or made to stand outside in the cold, she wrote.
The prison service denied those allegations, saying women worked no more than eight hours a day.