Evgeny Feldman—Girlie Action Media
June 12, 2015 3:17 PM EDT

Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonnikova and a fellow activist were detained for three hours by Moscow police Friday afternoon after staging a public demonstration against the state prison system.

Tolokonnikova and fellow activist Katya Nenasheva appeared in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square, a flashpoint for opposition protests in 2012. Both arrived wearing prison uniforms and proceeded to sew the words “Prison Camp Russia” across a Russian flag, imitating the menial labor Tolokonnikova performed during her two year stint in a Russian prison camp.

Tolokonnikova said in an interview with TIME that the demonstration was meant to protest what she termed a “sadistic” new law that would expand the punitive measures prison guards could take against convicts, including electroshock weapons.

Russian authorities have defended the law as a clarification of when force can be used to prevent extreme cases of disobedience, such as prison riots, but protesters argue that it would lead to wider abuses, particularly against female convicts.

“Women in prisons, they are in a very vulnerable position, because conditions of their labor and of their living in most cases is worse than conditions in male prisons,” Tolokonnikova said.

Police descended on the two activists and pushed them into a waiting police van. “At first, they didn’t tell us why we had been arrested,” Tolokonnikova said. “They just told us that they’re not supposed to sew in the middle of the street.” They continued sewing in the police station, finishing their work before they were released without charges. “So we can say our action now is finished,” she said. “All we had wanted to do was done.”

Tolokonnikova insisted that her recent brush with authorities would not deter her from future advocacy for prison reform. “Of course, there is always a possibility in Russia, if you are a political activist, to go to prison,” Tolokonnikova said. “If you start to think about that you do not do action. It’s better not to think.”

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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