Two Members of Russian Punk Band PUSSY RIOT Released from Jail
Two members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot who were jailed following their protests to raise concerns over the ever-growing close ties between the state and the church in Russia, were released Monday, December 23 following an amnesty law that both of them described as the Kremlin's attempt to increase public relations in anticipation of the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics games.Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were granted amnesty last week, which was considered by many to be the Kremlin's attempt to ease criticism of Russia's human rights record, particularly against the gay community. The Winter Olympics in Sochi are set to begin in February. The third member of the band, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on suspended sentence months after all three were found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced to two years in prison for the performance at Moscow's main cathedral in March 2012. A statement was released today from Hunter Heaney, Executive Director of The Voice Project, an organization that has worked behind the scenes for the women's release and worked together with family members to keep the Pussy Riot women safe and monitored while they were in the camps, raising over $120,000 for the support efforts. Monday, December 23rd (New York) "We all recognize that the whole amnesty program is a PR move by Putin, likely of course a bit of image clean up prior to the Olympics. Amnesty being "granted" to two women put in prison for a 40 second song performance, who would have been released in a mere couple of months, after missing nearly two years with their young children and loved ones is, of course, absurd. Last minute amnesty does not make up for that or the rule of law denied to so many others by the Putin regime and our thoughts are with them today. However, we are so happy that Nadya and Masha are safe, have come through this ordeal healthy and strong, and two young mothers will now be getting to see their children. A very large community of activists and donors around the world have worked hard to help to see that happen."
Photos courtesy of Pyotr Verzilov