Belfast Telegraph

Pussy Riot members leave prison

Pussy Riot members Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have been freed from jail in Russia following an amnesty law that both described as a Kremlin public relations stunt ahead of the Winter Olympics.

The singers were granted amnesty last week in a move largely viewed as the Kremlin's attempt to soothe criticism of Russia's human rights record ahead of the Games in Sochi in February.

The third member of the Russian punk band, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on a suspended sentence months after all three were found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced to two years in prison for a performance at Moscow's main cathedral in March 2012.

The band members said their protest was meant to raise their concern about increasingly close ties between the state and the church.

After they were jailed, stars including Adele, Madonna and Sir Paul McCartney called for their release.

Russian parliament passed the amnesty bill last week, allowing the release of thousands of inmates. Maria and Nadezhda, who were due for release in March, qualified for amnesty because they have small children.

There has been an international outcry over Russia's human rights record.

Nadezhda walked out of a prison in the eastern Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, smiling to reporters and flashing a V sign. She said that she and Maria will set up a human rights group to help prisoners.

Maria, who was released earlier from a prison outside the Volga river city of Nizhny Novgorod, said she would have stayed behind bars to serve her term if she was free to turn it down. "If I had a chance to turn it down, I would have done it, no doubt about that," she told Dozhd TV. "This is not an amnesty. This is a hoax and a PR move."

She said the amnesty bill covers less than 10 per cent of the prison population and only a fraction of women with children behind bars.

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph