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Pussy Riot Member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova Denied Parole

Outspoken member of activist punk band remains in prison for failing to "repent" for actions
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ALEXANDER NEMENOV

Although the possibility of parole was imminent when Nadezhda "Nadya" Tolokonnikova gave her first Western media interview earlier this month, the 23-year-old musician had little hope stating:

"For me, the parole hearing means nothing. In our case, the government wants us to recognize our guilt, which of course we won't do. I submitted the parole documents to show that they cannot break a person."

Sadly, it seems she was completely right. Yesterday Tolokonnikova was officially denied parole while serving her two-year sentence on charges of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred".

Tolokonnikova has been serving time in a prison colony in Mordovia, Russia since October for a protest her band held on February 21, 2012. The protest consisted of Pussy Riot performing a "punk prayer" in a Moscow church during which they "asked" the Virgin Mary to expel Russian President Vladimir Putin from office. 

Three of the members were arrested following the performance--the drummer, who escaped and is still in hiding, gave an interview to 60 Minutes last month. Their trial caused global upset and outcries from myriad famous musicians ranging from the Black Keys to Paul McCartney.

During yesterday's parole hearing, according to the BBC, Tolokonnikova's lawyer argued that the musician had served enough time and that her five-year-old daughter needed her. The lawyer also presented an appeal signed by several human rights activists. Tolokonnikova told the judge during the hearing:

"I have spent enough time in the prison camp. I've had enough of studying it. Six months is time enough."

However, Tolokonnikova was still denied parole because of her failure to show repentance as well as two other incidences: she was reportedly reprimanded for refusing to go for a walk at a Moscow jail and for failing to greet a prison official while receiving treatment for severe headaches at a hospital in February.

Despite this setback, it is doubtful that this will be the last we hear of Nadya Tolokonnikova. The ever-resilient musician is not letting prison keep her down.

"I try to use all my time constructively—productively, creatively. I'm trying to learn how to relate to all this with interest, and I think I am achieving it," she said in her April 8th interview with the Guardian.

"If your mood is bad, then time goes slow. If you learn to live paying attention to life and valuing it, even here, then time isn't lost. That's my main task: to make it so that the time they tried to take from me isn't lost. And I think I am successful."

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