Nadezhda Tolokonnikova at the Moscow Tagansky District Court
|Native name||Надежда Андреевна Толоконникова|
|Born||Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova
7 November 1989
Norilsk, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Other names||Nadya Tolokno (Надя Толокно)|
|Education||Moscow State University|
|Occupation||Student, Political Activist, Performance Artist|
|Years active||2008 to present|
|Organization||Voina, Pussy Riot|
|Known for||Provocative political protests; imprisonment for hooliganism|
|Hooliganism motivated by religious hatred|
|2 years imprisonment|
|convicted on 17 August 2012, released under amnesty on 23 December 2013|
|Children||Gera (b. 2008)|
|Awards||LennonOno Grant for Peace|
Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova (Russian: Наде́жда Андре́евна Толоко́нникова; born 7 November 1989), nicknamed "Nadya Tolokno" (Надя Толокно), is a Russian conceptual artist and political activist. She is a member of the anti-Putinist punk rock group Pussy Riot, and has a history of political activism with the controversial street-art group Voina. On 17 August 2012, she was convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" after a performance in Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and sentenced to two years' imprisonment. On 23 December 2013, she was released early with another Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina under a newly passed amnesty bill dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Russian constitution.
Tolokonnikova was recognized as a political prisoner by the Russian human rights group "Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners". Amnesty International named her a prisoner of conscience due to "the severity of the response of the Russian authorities".
Early and personal life
Tolokonnikova was born on November 7, 1989 in Norilsk - the heavily polluted extreme-weather industrial city in the Russian Arctic. In her late school years, she was active in amateur modern literature and art projects, organized by the Novoye Literaturnoye Obozreniye.
In 2007, Tolokonnikova enrolled in the philosophy department of the Moscow State University (her current student status is unclear). She since married Pyotr Verzilov and gave birth to daughter Gera in 2008. She has Canadian permanent resident status and her husband is a dual citizen of Canada and Russia.
Performances and protests
|This section requires expansion. (December 2013)|
Tolokonnikova and Verzilov joined the Voina art collective in 2007 and participated in several of their provocative art performances. In February 2008, they were involved in the "Fuck for the heir Puppy Bear!" performance in which couples were filmed engaging in sexual acts in the Timiryazev State Biology Museum in Moscow. The performance was apparently intended as a kind of satire of then President Dmitry Medvedev's call for increased reproduction. She was in the late stages of pregnancy at the time. Tolokonnikova was among the Voina members who disrupted a trial for the director of the Andrei Sakharov Center in 2009.
She also took part in a series of actions Operation Kiss Garbage, (Russian: "Лобзай мусора", roughly translated as "Kiss a pig") from January through March 2011. This project comprised female members' forcibly kissing policewomen in Moscow metro stations and on the streets.
Arrest and indictment
Following the "Punk Prayer" incident in 21 February 2012 a criminal case was opened on 26 February, against the band members who had participated. On 3 March, Tolokonnikova and two other alleged members of Pussy Riot were arrested by the Russian authorities and accused of hooliganism. All women at first denied being members of the group and started a hunger strike in protest against being held in jail away from their young children. They were held without bail and were formally charged on 4 June, with the indictment running to 2,800 pages.
Court case and imprisonment
Tolokonnikova was serving the remainder of her two-year sentence in the IK-14 women's penal colony in the Republic of Mordovia. On 23 September 2013 she went on hunger strike over prison conditions and alleged threats against her life made by prison staff. Her letter on the conditions of the women in the penal colony asserts that the women have no rights. The prisoners must work 16–17 hours and sleep 3–4 hours a day; they have a day-off every 8th week. If they complain, they are punished. If they complain over the treatment of other prisoners, they are punished even harder. Collective punishment is frequent but the prisoners may also be beaten up with particular focus on hitting the kidneys. Another punishment consists of keeping a prisoner outdoor in the cold without sufficient clothing. Most of what she reports is confirmed from other sources.
In late September 2013, Tolokonnikova was hospitalised after going without food for a week. She was treated in the prison's medical ward, and authorities didn't release more specific details.
On 21 October 2013, she was transferred to another prison; her whereabouts remained unknown for several weeks. On 5 November 2013, it was reported that Tolokonnikova had been transferred to IK-50, a prison located near Nizhny Ingash, approximately 300 kilometres from Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. On 15 November 2013, she was again able to communicate with her husband through a video call from the prison hospital.
On the afternoon of 23 December 2013 Tolokonnikova was released from a prison hospital in Krasnoyarsk, where she was being treated for an unspecified illness. According to Yelena Pimonenko, senior prosecutor assistant of the Krasnoyarsk Krai, Tolokonnikova was released because the article "hooliganism" of the Russian Criminal Code falls under the newly introduced amnesty bill. Putin's amnesty is seen by the freed prisoners and numerous critics as a propaganda stunt as Russia prepares to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in February. Tolokonnikova said "... releasing people just a few months before their term expires is a cosmetic measure... That includes the case of Khodorkovsky, who didn't have much time left on his prison term. This is ridiculous. While Putin refuses to release those people who really needed it. It is a disgusting and cynical act" and urged countries to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics. She and Alyokhina said they would form a human rights movement for prison reforms. On 6 March 2014, she was assaulted and injured at a fast food outlet by local youths in Nizhny Novgorod.
In February 2014, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were detained in Sochi by the Adler Police in connection with an alleged hotel theft. They were released without charge. On 19 February footage surfaced showing footage of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina being attacked with horsewhips by Cossacks who are helping patrol Sochi during the Winter Olympics.
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