Pussy Riot doc director says band member on hunger strike has not been hospitalized

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Image Credit: Alexander Agafonov/AP

Earlier this week, it was widely reported that Pussy Riot member Maria “Masha” Alekhina had been hospitalized on the seventh day of a hunger strike at the penal colony in the Urals where she is imprisoned. But according to Maxim Pozdorovkin, co-director of the documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, that is not the case.

“There’s been misleading information about her being hospitalized,” says Pozdorovkin, who is in contact with several non-imprisoned members of the Russian punk band-cum-feminist art collective. “When a person goes on hunger strike in a penal colony they’re supposed to immediately give them medical attention — be constantly monitoring their blood pressure and sugar levels. She wasn’t monitored immediately and then, on the seventh day, they finally checked all these things that they were supposed to do on the first. That’s when the news broke that she’s been hospitalized — but she actually hasn’t. So that’s the update as of today. She was never hospitalized, but she’s still on hunger strike.”

Last year, Alekhina and fellow Pussy Riot members Nadia Tolokonnikova and Katia Samutsevich were arrested and then jailed after performing the song “Mother of God, Drive Putin Out” in a Moscow cathedral (Samutsevich was freed on appeal in October). Alekhina began her hunger strike after being barred from her own parole hearing.

“The only bit of positive news is that the authorities [apparently] said that they were going to possible make some adjustments to address one of her complaints and then she said that she would go off [the hunger strike]” says Pozdorovkin. “But it’s not really clear if that’s true or a rumor. It’s been hard to get news on her conditions but when she’s talked to people she’s been fairly chipper. [But] it is worrying. Everyone’s worried about Masha.”

UPDATE (12.45pm ET, June 1, 2013): Pozdorovkin has confirmed media reports that Alekhina has ended her hunger strike as her demands concerning treatment of prisoners in her penal colony have been met.

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, which Pozdorovkin directed with Mike Lerner, will air on HBO, June 10. You can check out the trailer for the documentary below.

Read more:
Released Pussy Riot member offers no regrets

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