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Nadezhda Tolokonnikova delivering a speech in court during the Pussy Riot trial (screen shot via YouTube)

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was denied early release from prison last Friday, with a Russian judge saying that Tolokonnikova had “not always followed the rules of behavior” in custody, according to the AP.

Tolokonnikova and fellow band members Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina were sentenced to two years in prison last August for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred,” after they and other members of the Pussy Riot collective performed an anti-Putin song unauthorized in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Samutsevich was released after just six months, but Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova remain in notorious prison camps.

Tolokonnikova, who has a 5-year-old daughter, has now served half her sentence, which means she can seek early release under Russian law. But there’s been a strong reaction against Pussy Riot in Russia, in part fanned by government propaganda, and officials from the prison didn’t help her case with their deposition, which called her “insensitive to ethics and conscience and thinking only about herself.” They also noted examples of her alleged misconduct, including not saying hello to a prison official while she was in the hospital — which earned her a penalty! — and refusing to go out for a walk while she was in jail in Moscow.

For her part, Tolokonnikova said in court that she thought the prison didn’t agree with her request for early release because she “didn’t repent.” The AP astutely notes that “Russian law does not make repentance a condition for an early release.”

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Jillian Steinhauer

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art and...