No parole for Pussy Riot band member

Russian court rejects a plea for parole by a lead member of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot profiled on "60 Minutes" last month

(AP/CBS) Today, a Russian court rejected a plea for parole by a lead member of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot. Nadia Tolokonnikova, who has been in custody since her arrest last March, is serving a two-year sentence in a penal colony for staging a political protest with other members of the band against President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral.

The young women of Pussy Riot, profiled on 60 Minutes last month, have become the poster girls of Russian dissent. In the 60 Minutes piece below, you'll see the church protest that got some of them arrested: Five girls in their colorful trademark masks, praying to the Virgin Mary to drive Putin away. Using obscenities and punk music, they blast Putin for limiting freedoms and jailing protesters. The protest lasted only 51 seconds before they were shut down by the church.

60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl traveled to Russia to interview Tolokonnikova's band mates about the group's political message. Katya Samutsevich explained that the band chose Moscow's biggest Russian Orthodox cathedral because the patriarch of the church called Putin a miracle from God during last year's election.

"The elections weren't legitimate," said Samutsevich. "There was vote rigging. There was false counting. It was clear that the president put himself in power."

After the stunt, three of the band members were arrested and sentenced to prison terms on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. Samutsevich served only seven months before being released on appeal.

Tolokonnikova, a philosophy student and mother of a 5-year-old, was sent to a labor camp in Mordovia, where she works grueling shifts sewing uniforms.

Dressed in a dark prison uniform with a white scarf around her neck, Tolokonnikova told the court today that the prison colony where she is serving her sentence did not support her plea of early release because she "didn't repent."

In its deposition, the prison colony described Tolokonnikova as "insensitive to ethics and conscience and thinking only about herself."

The prison colony also listed a penalty that Tolokonnikova received for failing to say hello to a prison official while she was in the hospital and noted that she was once reprimanded for her refusal to go out for a walk while she was held in a Moscow jail.

Defense lawyers urged the court to release Tolokonnikova so that she can take care of her 5-year-old daughter. Judge Lidiya Yakovleva said evidence showed that Tolokonnikova did not deserve early release because she had "not always followed the rules of behavior" while in custody.


Could the court's decision to reject parole become a public relations problem during the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi? Watch the video below.

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