Why is it important for me to work with the Russian prison system? The answer is simple. Because girls and women behind bars tell me: "My dream is to get TB (tuberculosis) to just get out of the IK-2 prison!" These women have somewhere to go after their release, they have parents and children. But they are humiliated, repressed, devoid of the will to live so much that they are ready to catch a serious disease on purpose -- for only one reason -- to leave the prison for a prison hospital. Prison, where they are beaten with clubs, bars and ankle boots, where they sleep only few hours a day, where they are hauling concrete blocks and where they are tortured and killed.
Therefore we are creating "Justice Zone." This is a platform which will be the basis for collective action of people united by a concern regarding the fate of those prisoners whose lives are crumbling under the Russian penal system.
During our prison term, the administration tried to get me and Masha Aloykhina to be silent, putting pressure on those prisoners who were dear to us. Now they also are trying to clamp down on activities of "Justice Zone" by taking hostage a girlfriend of one of our colleagues in human rights work.
Kira Sagaydarova, our colleague in Justice Zone, was freed five months ago from the same IK-2 prison and is now actively involved in the work with us on changing the situation in the prisons. Kira recently gave several interviews in which she spoke about the flagrant violations and systemic violence in IK- 2. Here are just some of the evidence moments Kira shared:
"For the first six months they are just killing you. Rizhov, Industrial Zone Chief, requires sewing shop supervisors to meet a certain quota, but they do not meet the quota since new girls do not know how to sew yet. So supervisors beat them. They beat you once, then may come grab your hair, hit your head on the sewing machine or take you into a punishment cell, there they kick you using hands, legs, or remove the belt from a sewing machine and thrash you with it.
"Supervisors are the ones who can be blamed for the majority of violence that occurs in the colony. They do what they want and handle other people's lives as they wish. They beat my back with all their might, my head, without any difference where. I fell and cried many times, and I cannot even list all the things that happened there. They do not care. There was a period when they poured cold water on us in a cold punishment cell in the winter! "
Vika Dubrovina is a friend of Kira's who is still in prison. Since mid-November Kira suddenly stopped receiving letters from Vika. On December 25, Vika managed to call her mom, she told her that the whole last month, she spent in the punishment cell chamber.
Here are the words of Vika's mom: "Vika called all in tears and told me that because of an interview Kira gave, Vika was put twice already into the punishment cell for 15 days and told to get ready to move into SUS."
SUS is lockable barracks where you are prohibited to see your family/friends and to make telephone calls. Prison chiefs in the IK-2 do not hide the fact that Vika will be mistreated until her friend Kira, who is free now, won't stop talking about the prisons of Mordovia.
The first time Vika was thrown into the punishment cell was for a tag. She was approached by a prison employee who tore off her name tag and announced that being in prison without a tag is a violation for which she will be punished 15 days in the ice insulator (cold punishment cell).
After 15 days, Vika came from the punishment cell. She spent the night in the main barracks with all the prisoners. Next day, she was summoned to the boss who told her that she was again being punished for the shape of her garment, for some irregularities on her jacket, and will be sent to a punishment cell for a second term of 15 days.
On Dec. 26, the day after the end of the second 15 days in solitary in a punishment cell -- Vika was enclosed for a third term in the insulator under the pretext of another absurdity . As a result, Vika now was held for 45 days in a punishment cell. In mid-January when she will be released again in the squad, the bosses of IK-2 will come up with another plan on how to punish her again for the fact that her friend Kira is disclosing what is happening in the prison.
Together with Vika's mother, we have already sent a complaint to the Prosecutor General and the Prosecutor's Office of Mordovia and have sent a request to Zubova Polyana Mordovia court demanding that all three episodes of placing Vika into solitary punishment cells be declared illegal actions of prison administration IK-2.
The reaction of prosecutors and the court will take a couple of weeks, but we need immediate response, today, right now. We need to make it clear to the prison directors in the IK-2 and the Mordovian prison system that they cannot punish Vika Dubrovina with impunity to avenge that her friend writes about the situation in the prison.
For that reason, we encourage all who have not remained indifferent to evil, which is what is happening with Vika, please show Mordovia prison officials that their actions will be punished. Currently, hundreds of complaints have been submitted by those who responded to our request, who are not indifferent.
We hope that public scrutiny will lead to the fact that the illegal sanctions will be removed and new ones will not be imposed.
1) Call here to stop the torturing of Vika.
Person on Duty at IK-2 prison in Mordovia: 011-7-834-572-26-40
Person on Duty on the Federal Prison System in Mordovia:
Person on Duty in the FSIN of Russia: 011-7-495-982-19-00
Person on Duty in the FSIN of Russia: 011-7-495-982-19-00
3) Share this post on your social networks, and ask a couple of your friends to make a couple of calls and send a couple of complaints.
Vika still has three more years to serve in that prison. After spending 10 minutes and doing these three simple steps above, you can influence the fate of the girl who now sits in an icy punishment cell because her friend spoke out so we all are able read the stories about what happens in the IK-2 prison in Mordovia.
Update: Because of the overwhelming response to this post, Russian authorities contacted the author, noting they would prefer that people protesting treatment of women prisoners write instead of call. If you'd like to do that, what follows is the information to do so -- but the author doesn't want to dissuade you from calling, either.
Addresses in English:
1) Russia, The Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Mordovia -- 430005, Saransk, ul. Leo Tolstoy, 4
2) Russia, The FSIN of Russia -- 119991, Moscow, GSP-1, Zhitnaya st., 14
3) Russia, UFSIN of Russia in the Republic of Mordovia -- 431160, Republic of Mordovia, village Yavas, Kosarev Street 12
4) Russia, The Prosecutor General's Office -- 125993 , GSP-3, Moscow, Russia. B. Dmitrovka Street 15a
Same addresses in Russian:
1) Russia, Прокуратура Республики Мордовия -- 430005, Саранск, ул. Льва Толстого, 4
2) Russia, ФСИН России -- 119991, Москва, ГСП-1, Житная ул., 14
3) Russia, УФСИН России по Республике Мордовия -- 431160, Республика Мордовия, п. Явас, ул. Косарева 12
4) Russia, Генпрокуратура Рф -- 125993, ГСП-3, Россия, Москва ул. Б. Дмитровка, 15а
I do not know what is happening to Vika right now. It worries me, worries me a lot . These days -- New Year's weekend, lawyers are not allowed in the prison. More precisely, for some it is New Year's weekend, but for someone -- a single cold chamber, a punishement cell.
It would be great if you give Russian Federal Prison officials know that we will not forget about their lawlessness. And we will keep reminding them about it by calling or writing again and again.
Thanks to all those who are not indifferent.
Nadia Tolokonnikova was recently released from a Siberian prison where she was incarcerated for more than 21 months for her participation in the "punk prayer" protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Two other members of the band were also incarcerated, in two different prisons.) Nadia shares with The Huffington Post her reflections on her time in prison. Translated by Natasha Fissiak, a producer of the documentary Free Pussy Riot!