Maria Alyokhina, Nadia Tolokonnikova – Pussy Rioters – Go Free

Monday, 23 Dec 2013 11:18 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Maria Alyokhina and Nadia Tolokonnikova, two Russian political activists and members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot, were released from prison on Monday due to the nation's recently passed Amnesty Bill.

"Russia without Putin," was shouted by the 24-year-old Tolokonnikova following her release from a Siberian prison, Reuters reported.

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"The border between being free and not free is very thin in Russia, a totalitarian state," Tolokonnikova told reporters following her release.


Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were arrested in February 2012 after the pair and three other Pussy Riot members performed a crude protest concert in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. They were subsequently arrested and charged with hooliganism, and each sentenced to two-year prison terms.

The politically active band is perceived by many in Russia as being anti-religious. It is known for promoting Lesbian and Gay rights while being vehemently opposed to Russia's President Vladimir Putin, who they have labeled a dictator.

The amnesty bill, which passed with a 446-0 vote in the Russian Duma last Wednesday, has resulted in the premature release of thousands of Russian prisoners, the vast majority of whom are first-time offenders, minors, and women jailed on nonviolent offenses.

Putin critics characterized the bill as a thinly veiled attempt by the Russian president to soothe criticism of the nation's human rights records ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.

"I do not think it is a humanitarian act, I think it is a PR stunt," the 25-year-old Alyokhina told the Russian Internet and TV channel Dozhd. "My attitude to the president has not changed."


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The decision to release the band members early apparently had no effect on the band's commitment to continue their anti-Putin protest with Tolokonnikova telling reporters, "Everything is just starting, so fasten your seat belts."

"I think we will unite our efforts in our human rights activity... The methods which we will use will remain the same," Alyokhina added. "We will try to sing our song to the end."

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