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Pussy Riot Members Slam Amnesty

Published: December 25, 2013 (Issue # 1792)

  • A video frame grab of Pussy Riot members Maria Alekhina (l) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (r) as they walk to a car in Krasnoyarsk on Tuesday, Dec. 24.
    Photo: AP

Two Pussy Riot members were released from prison Monday under President Vladimir Putins amnesty, but both derided the move as a PR stunt ahead of the Sochi Olympics and one vowed to continue her political fight.

The two were released three months before completing their full two-year prison terms on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for performing an anti-Putin punk prayer at Moscows Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012.

While their early release was met with joy by many of their supporters, both the girls and several human rights activists warned against viewing the amnesty as an indication of a softened attitude in the Kremlin.

Both Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina openly mocked the amnesty, saying it was aimed at improving Russias image ahead of the February Winter Olympics in Sochi and that it did not include all of Russias perceived political prisoners.

Alyokhina, who was released first, at about 9 a.m. Monday morning from a penal colony in the Nizhny Novgorod region, told Dozhd television in her first interview after the release, that her attitude to Putin had not changed.

Later, Alyokhina told a press briefing in Nizhny Novgorod that she did not regret her participation in the anti-Putin performance at the Moscow church and even wished that she and her band members had sung the song to the end, Interfax reported.

I am not afraid of anything anymore now, believe me, she told British television ITN in a video report posted on Youtube.

Alyokhina said she would have rejected her release if she had the legal choice to do so, and called the amnesty a sham, as it included only four of the 12 defendants in another high-profile case, she told the St. Petersburg office of Ekho Moskvy. The 12 defendants she was referring to, who are also widely seen as political prisoners, were charged for taking part in alleged riots during a protest on Bolotnaya Ploshchad in Moscow in May 2012.

As for the real reason behind the amnesty, she told Ekho Moskvy it was related to improving the image [of Russia] ahead of the Sochi Olympics.

Tolokonnikova, for her part, called the amnesty absolutely laughable since it was applied to her and Alyokhina only three months before the end of their prison terms and was linked to the Olympics, she told Ekho Moskvy.

Tolokonnikova also said she was not going to stop political activities because she feels a sense of responsibility for her country. She will consult opposition activists about her participating in future political activities, she said.

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