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Pussy Riot Members Officially Released From Prison
Posted by Joseph Lee on 12.23.2013



Reuters reports that two members of Pussy Riot were freed from prison today and criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin's amnesty which led to their early release, calling it a propaganda stunt.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (age 24) shouted "Russia without Putin" after her release from a Siberian prison, which happened hours after Maria Alyokhina (25) was released from a jail in the Volga River city of Nizhny Novgorod. The amnesty is being seen as Russia's attempt to better its image before the Winter Olympics in February.

Tolokonnikova said: "The border between being free and not free is very thin in Russia, a totalitarian state."

The two were sentenced for two years after a "punk prayer" against Putin in a Russian Orthodox church in 2012. The trial is what some critics called part of a fight against those against Putin in his third term as president. The case created many supporters internationally (including Paul McCartney and Madonna) but not as many in Russia. They were set to be released in early March.

Putin has denied putting people in jail for political reasons and said that the amnesty shows that Russia is humane. Putin became president in 2000 and has not ruled out another six-year term in 2018. Alyokhina said the amnesty was too narrow and only there to stop criticism over human rights before the Olympics, which take place in Sochi on February 7-23. Alyokhina previously staged a hunger strike earlier this year to draw attention to the hours of mandatory labor and poor conditions of the jail where she was held.

She said: "I do not think it is a humanitarian act, I think it is a PR stunt. My attitude to the president has not changed. Everything is just starting, so fasten your seat belts. I think we will unite our efforts in our human rights activity ... the methods which we will use will remain the same. We will try to sing our the song to the end. I'm not afraid of anything anymore - believe me."
She added that if given the option, she would have rejected the amnesty.

Putin has said that the amnesty wasn't created with Pussy Riot in mind, and said their protest was disgraceful and "went beyond all boundaries". A third member of the group, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released last year after her sentence was suspended on appeal.





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