Russian PM argues for Pussy Riot members release

Associated Press Modified: November 2, 2012 at 3:31 pm •  Published: November 2, 2012
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For Partsa — a dot on the map where most working-age adults are dressed in uniform — newcomers and journalists attract suspicious glances and hostile questioning.

"All that would be needed here would there be an order from someone high-placed in Moscow who'd say, 'Press her, make her feel the real Russian prison,'" said Verzilov, hopeful but skeptical about the good treatment. "People follow the instructions they are given from the top."

The women are woken up at 6:30 a.m., and their workday begins at 7:30 a.m. and continues for eight hours by law, but sometimes more. Most of the women in Tolokonnikova's prison work in the sewing industry, where they make clothes for the well-padded echelons of Russia's special and civil services.

Tolokonnikova has not yet begun working mandatory shifts, but was offered the chance to break some asphalt within the prison compound last week, a task she undertook with fervor after being cooped up for too long, Verzilov said.

Relatives are allowed to visit the women inside the prison for several hours, six times a year. Conjugal visits, for three days, are permitted four times per year. With the right stack of paperwork, prisoners are allowed food, books, medicine, and clothes — in black, the uniform of the prison — from relatives and friends.

Even if Tolokonnikova lobbies to have her sentence delayed until her daughter is a teenager, her effort may have effect only if and when the political tide in the Kremlin turns her way.

Svetlana Bakhmina, a lawyer arrested in the wake of the politicized trial of her boss, oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was sent to the same penal colony where Tolokonnikova now lives.

But despite having two children, aged 2 and 6 at the time of her arrest, Bakhmina was only released early when she became pregnant in prison. She was released in 2009, several months after the birth of her daughter.

Meanwhile, Russia's main Russian patent agency refused to register the words "Pussy Riot" as a trademark, Rospatent said Friday. The agency did not provide any details on why the request was turned down.

The registration request came from a company that belongs to the wife of the band's lawyer, Mark Feigin.

Feigin tweeted that he will try to register the trademark in the West.