Russian prison authorities are at risk of breaking the country's own laws if they fail to release information concerning the whereabouts of incarcerated punk star Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, according to an official from human rights organisation Amnesty International.
The Pussy Riot star was moved from a detention centre in Mordovia last month (22Oct13) to a more remote penal colony, reportedly in Siberia, but details of her new jail home have not been shared with members of her family.
Her father, Andrei, recently slammed Russian chiefs for the lack of updates on his daughter's whereabouts, and Tolokonnikova's husband, Petya Verzilov, has now claimed the prison move was a way to punish the feminist musician for publicly slamming conditions and her treatment behind bars.
He said, "They do not have the ability to put on the usual psychological or physical pressure they can use with inmates because of the high profile of the case. So they have chosen this as the punishment instead."
And now a top figure at Amnesty International has stepped up calls to bosses at the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service to make the location of Tolokonnikova's new prison public - because keeping the details secret from her lawyer and relatives is a violation of her human rights.
A statement issued by Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director, reads: "The Russian authorities must immediately tell her family where she is and allow her access to a lawyer. She is a prisoner of conscience who should have never been taken to jail in the first place. Refusing to say where she is simply fuels rumours of the worst case scenario.
"If reports are true, transferring her to a prison colony thousands of kilometres from Moscow would make it almost impossible for her relatives and lawyers to see her. This would be a violation of her human rights and of Russia's own laws."
Tolokonnikova was imprisoned with her bandmates Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich last year (12) after they were found guilty of hooliganism for staging a protest performance against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow church.
Samutsevich's sentence was commuted and she was freed in October, 2012, while Tolokonnikova and Alekhina are due to be released in March (14).