RUSSIA

Second member of Pussy Riot freed in Kremlin ‘PR amnesty’

AFP

Two jailed members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot were freed on Monday following a Kremlin amnesty described by one of the group’s members as a "PR stunt" for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Pussy Riot band members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were released from jail on Monday, three months before their prison sentence was due to run out.

The pair remained defiant against what they see as a propaganda stunt from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Tolokonnikova shouted "Russia without Putin" as she left her prison in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, while Alyokhina slammed her early release as a "PR stunt" from the Kremlin.

"I don't think it's an amnesty, it's a profanation," Alyokhina told the Dozhd television channel, saying it only applied to a tiny minority of convicts. "I don't think the amnesty is a humanitarian act, I think it's a PR stunt."

The two members of the all-female punk band were serving a two-year prison sentence on charges of hooliganism for an irreverent protest at Moscow's main cathedral.

Their liberation comes after the surprise release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former Russian oligarch who spent a decade in jail for tax evasion.

The series of releases is widely seen as a Kremlin effort to mute criticism of its dismal rights record ahead of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in February

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)
 

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