Pussy Riot founders set up Zona Prava

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina have founded a group to combat prison abuse

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It's been an eventful start to 2014 for Pussy Riot: the political punk group were whipped by Cossacks in Sochi in January, and they were attacked in a McDonalds earlier this month. Now, its two most famous members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, have set up a non-governmental organisation promoting prisoner rights. 

Their new group is called Zona Prava, which translates from Russian as "Law Zone", and its objective is to combat abuse that takes place inside cells. "In our country, as long as cases of prisoners’ rights’ violation take place, we are sure that there will be a need for our organization," Tolokonnikova said of the reasons behind the project.

The pair were only released from Russian prison last December as part of a wide-ranging amnesty for Russian political prisoners. 

Whilst imprisoned, Tolokonnikova wrote a letter bemoaning the terrible "slavery-like conditions" in her prison. She described how prisoners were forced to work 17 hour days, with just four hours sleep per night and one day off every six weeks. She also said that one prisoner was given daily beatings, just for being associated with her. 

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina left the group after their controversial participation in an Amnesty International concert – although their recent Sochi arrest as part of Pussy Riot suggests they are back with the band. 

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