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Pussy Riot to prison colony: Two women transferred from Moscow jail

Pussy Riot to prison colony: Two members of the band Pussy Riot were each transferred from a Moscow jail Maria Alekhina was sent to a prison colony in the Urals and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was sent to a prison colony in Mordovia.

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Members of the female punk band "Pussy Riot" (left to riot) Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass-walled cage before a court hearing in Moscow earlier this month. Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were sent to a prison colony.

REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

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Two members of Russian female punk band Pussy Riot – convicted of protesting against President Vladimir Putin in a cathedral – have been sent to prisons far from Moscow despite requesting to serve out their terms in the capital, a lawyer said on Monday.

Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" in August and sentenced to two years in jail, a punishment that many in the West said was too harsh.

Their stunt - bursting into Moscow's main Russian Orthodox Cathedral to urge the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin - infuriated the church and many Russians. But Kremlin critics said their trial was part of a crackdown on dissent orchestrated by Putin, who began a six-year presidential term in May.

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The two women lost their appeals on Oct. 10.

The women's lawyers said they had tried to argue that they should be allowed to remain in jail in Moscow, saying it would have permitted them to be closer to their small children. They had also cited health and safety concerns at far-flung penal colonies.

"They have been sent away," one of their lawyers, Mark Feigin, told Reuters, saying he did not know where the women had been dispatched. By law, relatives must be informed once a convict arrives at a prison, but the trip can take days.

One women's prison is about 100 km (60 miles) from Moscow, but most are much further away.

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