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Pussy Riot members call early release a publicity stunt

By Daniel S Levine,

The two members of the Russian punk feminist band Pussy Riot were released from prison early on Monday. Both Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova called their release just a publicity stunt before the Sochi Olympics start in February.

The women had been arrested back in early 2012 for performing at a prominent Russian Orthodox church in Moscow and criticizing President Vladimir Putin. Their official charge was hooliganism and they were sentenced to three years. Music superstars like Madonna voiced support for the group.

While Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, was released in October 2012, Alekhina, 24 and Tolokonnikova, 22, remained imprisoned. But on Friday, they were granted amnesty thanks to a new law that says prisoners who haven’t committed violent crimes could receive amnesty.

The two were released early Monday and quickly criticized the government. According to Voice of America, Alekhina told Dozhd television that she thinks it was a PR stunt and not a “humanitarian act.”

The Associated Press reports that Tolokonnikova also made similar comments, confirming that the two will now create a group devoted to human rights.

The release of members of Pussy Riot followed the surprise release of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who had been in prison for a decade after opposing Putin. He’s now gone to Germany.

 
 

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