UPDATE 2-Pussy Riot protester alone in cell after inmate tension

* Maria Alyokhina asked for move says penitentiary service

* Tension with cell mates "not over religious beliefs"

* Alyokhina serving two-year term over "punk prayer" against

Putin

(Adds lawyer's comment)

MOSCOW, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Jailed Pussy Riot punk protester

Maria Alyokhina has been moved to a single-person cell for her

own protection because of tension with other prisoners, her

lawyer and Russia's federal penitentiary service said on Friday.

Alyokhina, 24, is serving a two-year sentence for a raucous

protest against President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main

Russian Orthodox cathedral. Activists said her trial, and that

of two band mates, was part of a crackdown on dissent.

"There was a conflict" between Alyokhina and other inmates

and "she was tansferred to a individual cell," her lawyer Irina

Khrunova said by telephone. She said it was not yet clear what

caused the conflict.

Prison authorities said Alyokhina was moved at her own

request.

"Some tensions arose in relationships and, apparently to

prevent this situation from escalating, she decided to submit a

request to the prison leadership and they moved her to a

one-person cell," a federal prison service spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman dismissed Russian media reports Alyokhina

argued with inmates over religion at the Ural Mountains prison

about 1,150 km (715 miles) northeast of Moscow. Pussy Riot's

protest offended many members of Russia's Orthodox Church.

The spokeswoman also said she had no information regarding a

report on the tabloid-style Life News website that Alyokhina had

received violent threats from cell mates.

Alyokhina's main meal is taken to her cell and she is

accompanied by a guard when she leaves it, the spokeswoman said.

Alyokhina and two band mates were convicted in August of

hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for their "punk

prayer", which the dominant Russian Orthodox Church has cast as

part of a concerted attack on the church and the faithful.

The women said the protest, in which they burst into Christ

the Saviour Cathedral and called on the Virgin Mary to rid

Russia of Putin, was not motivated by hatred and was meant to

mock the church leadership's support for the longtime leader.

Putin, a former KGB officer who has cultivated close ties

with the church over 13 years in power, has rejected criticism

from the United States and European leaders who called the

two-year sentences disproportionate.

Alyokhina, who has a young son, argued with the judge and

cross-examined witnesses during her trial.

Her band mate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, is serving her

sentence in a different prison. Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, was

freed last month when a court suspended her sentence on appeal.

(Additional reporting by Ludmila Danilova and Steve Gutterman;

Writing by Nastassia Astrasheuskaya; editing by Jason Webb)

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