Masha Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot have lost their appeal to serve their sentence in a Moscow pre-trial detention centre. They will now serve the remainder of their terms in a remote penal colony, where conditions are much tougher.
A Moscow court last week upheld the two-year jail sentences imposed on Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Maria Alyokhina, 24, over a cathedral protest against Vladimir Putin. They were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.
They both have small children and their lawyers argued that a transfer to a colony outside Moscow where the regime is more strict than in detention centres will complicate their contacts with families. The nearest penal colony is 100 kilometres from Moscow.
According to the Russian law, only inmates with prison terms of less than six months can serve out their sentences in pre-trial detention centres. The law also makes an exception for inmates with skills needed in such centres.
Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina's lawyers argued that the two could work in the centre as cooks. Russian prisons are notorious for squalid conditions and often brutal treatment of inmates by personnel.
A third band member who was also arrested in February was given a suspended sentence on appeal last week.