Two members of the feminist punk rock band Pussy Riot remain defiant towards Russian President Vladimir Putin despite their release from prison earlier this week.
Maria Alyokhina, 25, was released from a corrective labor colony in the Nizhny Novgorod region Monday morning, while her bandmate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, departed a prison hospital in the Kransoyarsk region in Siberia later that day, reported the Los Angeles Times
A third band member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on appeal in October 2012.
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The three women were imprisoned in August 2012 after performing a protest song in Moscow's main cathedral, according to the BBC
"My attitude towards the president hasn't changed," Alyokhina told the liberal-leaning TV Rain, according to the Times. "If I had the slightest possibility to reject this mercy, by all means I wouldn't have accepted it.... Nothing depended on me in this case."
Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova would have completed their sentences in March but a newly enacted amnesty bill allowed the band members to be freed. Both women said they vowed to continue their human rights activism and felt no gratitude toward Putin.
"I don't feel a thing," Tolokonnikova told the Echo of Moscow radio station. “This amnesty is totally ridiculous applied to us a few months before our term expires."
Sergei Zakin, of the BBC Russian Service, said Russia experts believe the amnesty bill and the release of the Pussy Riot members are attempts to improve Putin's image as a civil liberties champion before the Sochi Olympics in February.
"We are happy they were released and although we denounced their blasphemous act, we never insisted that they should have been put in prison to begin with, but it is the way the law is," Vladimir Vigilyansky, spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchy, told the Times.
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Putin recently pardoned political rival Mikhail Khodorkovsky, at one time Russia's richest man, after he served more than 10 years in prison, Zakin said in his BBC report earlier this week.
Unlike Pussy Riot, Khodorkovsky said after his release that he would stay out of politics and did not feel hatred towards Putin, wrote the BBC.
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