Radio Svoboda has published an interview (Russian) with Tatyana Osipova, a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group who as a political prisoner in the 1980s and served her sentence in the penal colonies of Mordovia along with human rights activists like Irina Ratushinskaya and Tatyana Velikanova. Osipova makes particular mention of Penal Colony No. 14, where Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been sent, saying that it in her time it had the most difficult conditions of all the labour camps in the area, and apparently still does 30 years later - indeed, the conditions may be even worse now.
- По-вашему, тема политзаключенных и в ХХI веке еще не закрыта?
- Мне казалось раньше, что эта тема закрыта, а оказывается, в стране мало что изменилось. Может быть, и был период улучшения, но сейчас, похоже, все вернулось на круги своя.
- In your opinion, is the topic of political prisoners not yet closed in the 21st century?
- I used to think that this topic was closed, but it turns out that not much has changed in the country. Perhaps there was a period of improvement, but now it seems that everything has gone back to how it was before.