MOSCOW, November 20 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Labor Ministry on Tuesday dismissed claims by an anti-Kremlin punk rocker that she was forced to work excruciating hours in prison.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, announced a hunger strike in September, saying she was forced to work 17-hour days as a seamstress in a prison camp and was denied rest on the weekends. She also complained of work-related injuries and regular abuse by prison guards.
But Russia’s Labor Ministry said that based on prison records, Tolokonnikova’s working hours had not fulfilled the mandatory quota.
The ministry also noted that Tolokonnikova never reported any work-related injuries while in prison, according to a ministry letter published by the Kremlin’s human rights council.
The letter did not comment on Tolokonnikova’s claim that the prison seamstresses were also grossly underpaid. The activist said she was paid a monthly salary of 29 rubles in June ($0.88), while the minimum monthly wage in Russia is 5,200 rubles ($160).
Tolokonnikova was jailed for two years in mid-2012 along with two other members of punk band Pussy Riot for performing an anti-Kremlin song in a Christian cathedral.
Russia’s Investigative Committee dismissed her prison abuse claims last month, but she was nevertheless transferred to another prison in her native Siberian region, Krasnoyarsk.