Pussy Riot band member tells of gruelling life in prison colony

12 hours in the workshop, 1,400 kilometres from her son, Maria Alyokhin pays a heavy price

LAST UPDATED AT 16:10 ON Tue 18 Dec 2012

A MEMBER of the subversive Russian girl band Pussy Riot has spoken about her experience in jail, rubbishing rumours that they are living a celebrity lifestyle behind bars.

Gruelling early starts, dismal cleaning facilities and long, tortuous spells in security-monitored rooms are what 24-year-old Maria Alyokhin is subjected to in a prison colony nestled deep in the Ural Mountains, in the Perm region of Russia.

The day for Maria (above left) begins at 5.30am when she has to sprint to the washroom to have any chance of using the three basins and two toilets shared among 40 people before breakfast at 6am. "I will have to be constantly running for the next one and a half years," she writes in the account she gave to the Russian weekly, the New Times.  

Maria says she spends 12 hours a day in a workshop, where she sews to earn a maximum wage of 1,000 roubles (£20) a month.

Prison rules are learned by rote in a room rigged with a camera where falling asleep is banned.  The rules must be rigidly adhered to in order to have a chance of winning parole.

Alyokhin's five-year-old son is 1,400 kilometres away in Moscow. She says she is resigned to life in a "dead world", a place that "does not need personalities". All is grey - "the buildings, food, the sky, words" - the antithesis of the colourful, democratic values she previously trumpeted with her band members.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (above right), another convicted band member, is said to be enduring a similar routine at her prison camp in Mordovia.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhin were both jailed in August for two years after performing a subversive "punk prayer" in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February that strongly criticised Vladimir Putin, prime minister at the time.

Pussy Riot drummed up support around the world, notably from Madonna, Paul McCartney and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for eulogising democracy in their feisty performances. · 

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