Pussy Riot and Greenpeace activists may be freed thanks to Russia’s amnesty law

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The two members of Pussy Riot, a Moscow-based feminist punk band, who were arrested in Russia in 2012 may be released today, December 19.

On December 18, the State Duma unanimously passed a new amnesty law (446 to 0) that allows first-time offenders, minors, and women with small children to be freed from prison. The amnesty will take effect once the bill is published in the government newspaper, which is expected to happen on December 19; it is estimated that about 2,000 people will be released.

The amnesty will go into effect as soon as the bill is published in the government newspaper, which is expected to happen on Thursday.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, and Maria Alyokhnia, 25, are currently serving two-year terms for ‘hooliganism’ during a concert at the Russian Orthodox cathedral in 2012. The two women spoke out against the country’s gay oppression with the line, “Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains.”

The Pussy Rioter’s sentences were set to be finished next March. Because both Tolokonnikova and Alyokhnia have young children, they should qualify for amnesty; however, their release has yet to be officially confirmed.

“I feel sorry for Pussy Riot not for the fact that they were jailed, but for disgraceful behavior that has degraded the image of women,” Russian president Vladimir Putin said during a news conference.

Among the others who may be released under the amnesty law are a Greenpeace ship’s thirty crewmembers that were arrested after an Arctic protest in September.

“I might soon be going home to my family,” said Peter Willcox, the ship’s captain. “But I should never have been charged and jailed in the first place.”

While it is possible that Tolokonnikova and Alyokhnia could go free as soon as today, the bill allows a six-month processing period, which could greatly delay the release of thousands of prisoners.

Pyotr Verzilov, Tolokonnikova’s husband, told the Associated Press that there’s no reason his wife should not go free: “There’s nothing to stop this” once the bill is made effective.

429Magazine

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