Pussy Riot members could be freed early
A prison amnesty bill presented to the Russian parliament by Vladimir Putin adds new criteria for activists' release
By Sophia Kishkovsky. Web only
Published online: 10 December 2013
Two members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, could fall under the criteria of a broad prison amnesty that the Russian President Vladimir Putin has presented to parliament. The bill, which is expected to be voted into law by the end of December, calls for the release of mothers of young children and inmates convicted of non-violent crimes. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, who both have small children, were convicted last year of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and sentenced to two years in a penal colony for their performance of a “punk prayer” against Putin and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill I. They are scheduled for release in March 2014, and the new criteria have led to speculation that they could be freed early. (The third member of the band who was arrested, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on appeal last year.) Critics, however, have dismissed the amnesty as an empty gesture tied to the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics.
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