A Russian court ruled to keep Pussy Riot punk Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (23) in jail on Friday, denying her request for parole from her two-year sentence for the band’s performance against President Vladimir Putin last year. Judge Lidiya Yakovleva sided with prison officials, who said that Tolokonnikova does not deserve parole because she has not repented for her actions and has had reprimands while serving out her two-year term in a prison colony in Mordovia.

“Applying parole to Tolokonnikova is premature,” she said after taking about an hour-and-a-half to deliberate and failing to give the defence a chance for a final argument. “The court finds the arguments of the defence unsound.” The decision was met with some cries of “Shame!” from the audience, which included her husband and father, as well as many journalists and supporters who came from Moscow.

Tolokonnikova, one of the two members of the all-female punk band jailed last year for their “punk prayer” performance at a Moscow cathedral, earlier told the court that she has “spent enough time in the prison camp... six months is time enough”.

She is serving a two-year sentence for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred along with her bandmate Maria Alyokhina. A third woman, Yekaterina Samutsevich, received a suspended sentence.

The parole hearing could have seen the philosophy student at the elite Moscow State University and mother of a small daughter, released immediately.

— AFP