Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina was freed from a prison in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia under amnesty granted by Russian President Vladimir Putin. She and fellow Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova had three months remaining on their two year sentence for
hooliganism motivated by religious hatred
stemming from their “punk prayer” protest of Putin’s policies at Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Moscow’s main cathedral. The band played a song critical of the support given Putin by Orthodox Church patriarch Kirill I.
A third member of the punk rock band, Yekaterina Samutsevich, had her sentence overturned on appeal.
Tolokonnikova was released later on Monday and told CNN
she felt that the amnesty was a publicity stunt to bolster the government’s image before it hosts the Winter Olympics in February.
Her husband Pyotr Verzilov said:
Two months out of the almost two years that the girls have served is not much. So the effect of this amnesty for Maria and Nadezhda is not really felt..President Putin obviously used this amnesty option to (brighten) up his image before the Olympic games.
Pussy Riot’s future as a band is unclear.
Putin’s amnesty program, which is said to celebrate 20 years of the Russian Constitution, is timed nicely with the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Greenpeace activists are among the prisoners who will be given amnesty.