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Still defiant, members of Russian band go free

MOSCOW — Two members of the feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot were freed from prison Monday as part of an amnesty law that one of them immediately denounced as "a profanity."

The two musicians were released after serving most of their two-year sentences for hooliganism, a charge that stemmed from the "punk prayer" they performed denouncing President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main Russian Orthodox cathedral in February 2012.

Both women emerged with their defiance intact, vowing to work to promote human rights in Russia. Many observers viewed their release under the amnesty law as a damage-control measure by the Russian government before the start of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.

Their discharge followed that of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the oil tycoon who was regarded as Russia's most prominent political prisoner. He was freed Friday after being granted clemency by Putin, and was taken to Germany.

Pussy Riot member Maria Alekhina, 25, left a corrective labor colony in the Nizhny Novgorod region of central Russia on Monday morning; her bandmate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, left a prison hospital in the Kransoyarsk region in central Siberia later in the day.

"My attitude toward the president hasn't changed," Alekhina, said in an interview with TV Rain, a private, liberal-leaning television network, upon her release. "If I had the slightest possibility to reject this mercy, by all means I wouldn't have accepted it."

She called the amnesty "a profanity, because it sets free less than 10 percent of prisoners."

Until the amnesty law was passed by parliament last week, both Alekhina, and Tolokonnikova were due for release in March. The bill allows the release of thousands of inmates.

Another member of Pussy Riot, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was previously released on a suspended sentence.

Still defiant, members of Russian band go free 12/23/13 [Last modified: Monday, December 23, 2013 11:33pm]
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