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Jailed Pussy Riot band member moved to 'safe' cell

Band members were sentenced in August to two years in prison for performing a 'punk prayer' at Moscow's main cathedral and pleading with Virgin Mary for the deliverance from President Putin.

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In this Friday, Aug. 17, file photo, feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Maria Alekhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova show the court's verdict as they sit in a glass cage at a courtroom in Moscow.

Mikhail Metzel/AP/File

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One of the jailed members of the punk band Pussy Riot has been moved into a solitary cell following tensions with other inmates, Russian prison officials said Friday.

Stanislav Volegov, a spokesman for the Federal Penitentiary Service in the Perm region in the Ural Mountains where Maria Alekhina is serving her sentence, said on Rain TV that she was moved into a "safe" cell on Wednesday at her own request.

He didn't spell out the reasons behind the move, but other prison officials said, according to Russian news wires, that Ms. Alekhina made the request because of her perception that fellow prisoners had a negative attitude to her.

Alekhina and two other band members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, were sentenced in August to two years in prison on hooliganism charges for performing a "punk prayer" at Moscow's main cathedral, pleading with Virgin Mary for the deliverance from President Vladimir Putin.

(Read the Monitor's story about the case here)

Samutsevich was released on appeal, but Tolokonnikova and Alekhina were sent to prison camps to serve their sentences despite international outrage.

(Read the Monitor's story about how the case played out in Russia here)

The online Lifenews.ru claimed that Alekhina's inmates threatened her with violence after a heated argument over religion. Prison officials wouldn't confirm that claim, and Alekhina's lawyer, Irina Khrunova, couldn't be reached for comment.

The 20-something Alekhina, a poet and environmentalist, is the mother of a 5-year old boy.

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