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Pussy Riot Member Put in Solitary Confinement

Alyokhina being led into a court hearing in August. Vladimir Filonov

Jailed Pussy Riot band member Maria Alyokhina has been placed in solitary confinement for her own protection, prison authorities said Friday.

Alyokhina, who is serving a two-year sentence at a prison colony in the Perm region, was moved to a safe room at her own request.

"The young woman wrote to the leadership of the colony requesting measures to ensure her safety. She demonstrated that those around her have a bad attitude toward her. Therefore it was decided to transfer her to a room where she can be alone indefinitely," a prison representative told Interfax on Friday.

Alyokhina and fellow band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for a provocative performance in Moscow's largest cathedral in August. A third band member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on appeal in October.

One of the band members' former lawyers, Mark Feigin, has said he thinks the women's lives could be endangered in the notoriously harsh conditions of a Russian prison colony.

The Pussy Riot case came under new scrutiny last week, when Samutsevich gave a lengthy interview to news site Lenta.ru in which she harshly criticized Feigin and the band's other former lawyers, Nikolai Polozov and Violetta Volkova.

She said that they had spent very little time meeting with her in jail before the rockers' trial in August and that they had taken her passport and keys to her apartment without returning them. She also said Feigin had attempted to register Pussy Riot as a trademark without the band's permission.

Feigin and Polozov denied the allegations in interviews with Lenta.ru and accused Samutsevich of making a deal with authorities to smear them in return for her release. Volkova has made no official public statement regarding her former client's accusations.

Meanwhile, the group's supporters continue to press the government about the case. An Internet campaign to bombard the Justice Ministry with complaints about Pussy Riot's sentence was blocked Thursday night after more than 500 faxes addressed to President Vladimir Putin had been sent.

The campaign at faxyouputin.com appeared online Wednesday. It allowed Web users to use an automated service to fax the Ministry of Justice a picture of a balaclava with the words "Dear Mr. Putin, free speech is a human right. Please reconsider Pussy Riot's punishment."

A message posted on the website and the group's Twitter feed late Thursday said the fax service it was using had pulled the plug after sending 595 faxes from 46 countries.

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