Amnesty For Pussy Riot

The two remaining jailed members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot are free.

Photo: Sergey Ponomarev / AP Photo
Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina, centre, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a Moscow court room.

Reuters confirmed Dec. 19 that Maria Alekhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova would be released thanks to an amnesty bill.

The news comes three months before the end of their scheduled two-year sentences.

The imprisonment of the three-woman group made headlines, drawing widespread support from free speech advocates including major musicians.

They were sentenced to two years in prison on charges of “hooliganism” after performing an impromptu “punk prayer” at a major Moscow cathedral criticizing Russia’s president in February 2012.

The members also made news from behind bars, with Alekhina going on a hunger strike and Tolokonnikova disappearing during a prison transfer to be later found in a Siberian prison hospital.

A third member of the group was released previously after successfully appealing her sentence.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he did not regret that the women were jailed.

“I was not sorry that they ended up behind bars,” Putin said. “I was sorry that they were engaged in such disgraceful behaviour, which in my view was degrading to the dignity of women.”