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Russia Frees ‘Pussy Riot’ Members

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Two incarcerated members of the Russian protest-punk band ‘Pussy Riot’ were released from a Russian prison Monday, due to a new amnesty legislation which some watchdog groups view as a Kremlin public relations stunt in time for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Pussy Riot members Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were found guilty of hooliganism with religious undertones of hatred after a live set at Moscow’s main cathedral in March 2012, and were sentenced to two years in prison. A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on a suspended sentence just months after the hooliganism conviction.

Russian lawmakers have said the new bill, which the State Duma voted 446-0 in favor of, will likely free roughly 2,000 prisoners. The new laws apply to those who are non-violent offenders, and are catered mostly toward first-time offenders, minors and women with small children. Both Tolokonnikova and Alekhina have young kids.

Here’s a clip of the antics that garnered Pussy Riot their charges of hooliganism, after engaging in their “punk prayer”:

Alekhina, 25, was released from a prison outside the Volga river city of Nizhny Novgorod, and commented, “If I had a chance to turn it down (the amnesty), I would have done it, no doubt about that,” adding, “This is not an amnesty. This is a hoax and a PR move.”

Tolokonnikova, 24, exited a prison in the eastern Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk earlier today, and commented, “How do you like our Siberian weather here?” The singer also said that she and Alekhina will form a human rights group to assist Russian prisoners, stating, “I saw this small totalitarian machine from the inside. Russia functions the same way the prison colony does.”

In related news, Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned former billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky at the end of his annual press conference on Thursday. Khodorkovsky was formerly the chief of Yukos Oil, and one of the richest people in the world. He was convicted of fraud and tax evasion in 2003, and ended up serving 10 years. Some have speculated that Khodorkovsky’s pardon was another attempt by the Kremlin to clean up the Russian image in time for the Sochi Games.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Russia Frees ‘Pussy Riot’ Members
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  • Let Me Save You Money

    Here is what scares me. Russia is looking more free every day and America is looking like Russia was during the Reagan years. America incarcerates more people than the Russians do. America spies more than the Russians do. Our rights are being taken away every day. Putin is a worldwide hero and the rest of the world hates America.

    I grew up in the 80s under Reagan. In 2013, everything has reversed itself completely. It is quite obvious.