Pussy Riot Members Freed —Much to Their Displeasure

Maria Alyokhina says she wishes she was still in prison

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 23, 2013 5:44 AM CST | Updated Dec 23, 2013 7:48 AM CST

(Newser) – The high-profile prisoner exodus continues in Russia: The last two jailed members of Pussy Riot were today freed, after being in prison since August 2012. Their sentences were scheduled to end in March. The release came under an amnesty declared by Vladimir Putin, which Maria Alyokhina—the first band member released today—had some strong words about. Among them: She said her preference was to stay in prison and she wished she could have turned down the amnesty, which she blasted as a "profanation" and a "PR stunt" in advance of the Olympics.

Alyokhina took issue with the fact that the amnesty affected only a small number of inmates: 20,000 prisoners. The group included mothers, which both Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, the second member released today, are. No word from Tolokonnikova yet, but according to her husband, she may not go quietly either; he tells the BBC "the only thing they have acquired over their two years in prison is their confidence to continue fighting Putin's regime even harder." NBC News notes Putin didn't exactly have gracious words for the band, either, saying last week, "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." Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich left prison on appeal in October 2012. Potentially still on deck: Charges may be dropped against the arrested Greenpeace activists.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova speaks to the media after leaving prison in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Monday, Dec. 23, 2013.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova speaks to the media after leaving prison in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, Monday, Dec. 23, 2013.   (AP Photo/Alexander Roslyakov)
Maria Alekhina, a member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot speaks to the media at the Committee against Torture after being released from prison, in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Monday, Dec. 23.
Maria Alekhina, a member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot speaks to the media at the Committee against Torture after being released from prison, in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Monday, Dec. 23.   (AP Photo/Filipp Romanov)
Maria Alekhina, center, a member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot speaks to the media.
Maria Alekhina, center, a member of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot speaks to the media.   (AP Photo/Filipp Romanov)
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