RUSSIA

Freed Pussy Riot members reunite, discuss human rights project

AFP

Two pardoned members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot on Tuesday said they would work together on human rights issues including the plight of prisoners.

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Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were granted amnesty on Monday in a move that has largely been viewed as a Kremlin attempt to soothe criticism of Russia’s human rights record ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February – President Vladimir Putin’s pet project.

Prior to the pardon, the two were scheduled to be freed in March.

Upon her release on Monday, Alyokhina slammed the amnesty as a “PR stunt”, and called for a boycott of the winter games.

After flying into the eastern Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk on Tuesday to meet with Tolokonnikova, she said the planned human rights project will focus on female prisoners.

“We cannot be indifferent to the plight of women in jail,” Alyokhina told reporters.

The band’s third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on suspended sentence shortly after all three women were found guilty of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in prison in August 2012 for their protest at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow.

The women have denied the accusations that they were driven by hatred of religion, and said their performance was aimed at raising concern about the close ties between the church and state.

Russian parliament passed the amnesty bill last week, allowing the release of thousands of inmates, including former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and 30 Greenpeace activists.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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