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Pussy Riot Member Disappears During Russian Prison Move

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Scott T. Sterling
Scott T. Sterling Scott is the rock associate producer for Radio.com....
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(Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images)

(Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images)

(UPDATE – Nov. 4, 1:11 pm ET): The Russian prison service has announced through the Interfax news agency (via the Guardian) that Tolokonnikova has been sent to another penal colony, although she has yet to be heard from or seen since the transfer more than ten days ago.

The saga of all-female Russian punk band Pussy Riot has taken a chilling turn, as band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been missing for the past 10 days, according to relatives.

Tolokonnikova’s disappearance can be traced back to when the 23-year-old musician was being transferred from a prison colony in Mordovia.

“There’s no proof she’s alive, we don’t know the state of her health,” Tolokonnikova’s father told Buzzfeed. “Is she sick? Has she been beaten?”

Tolokonnikova made headlines in September of this year when she went on a hunger strike to protest the conditions of the Mordovia prison, where she stated women were treated like slaves, forced to work through illness in deplorable conditions (she outlined the situation in an open letter, with an English translation printed in The Guardian).

She ended the strike when her health deteriorated to the point of falling ill and being taken to the prison hospital.

According to Tolokonnikova’s father, sources tell him that his daughter was last seen Oct. 24 on a train in the city of Chelyabinsk, where she was kept overnight after being transferred from the Mordovia prison.

“We think they moved her to a big city to hide her,” her father explained, as Tolokonnikova’s husband, Petya Verzilov, and a crew of supporters regularly demonstrated outside of the prison . “It seems they got sick of these protests.”

Tolokonnikova’s father explained that prison officials promised that his daughter’s location would be revealed within 10 days of her transfer, but that date has passed with no information on her current whereabouts.

“This is basically the only way they have to punish Nadya — ‘let’s cut her off from the outside world,’” her husband said.

Tolokonnikova fellow Pussy Riot-er Maria Alyokhina are both scheduled to be released from prison in Marck 2014 after serving two years on the original charge of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” after they performed a protest of Russian president Vladimir Putin inside a church in Moscow.

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