Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina released from prison

Nadia Tolokonnikova is also due for release

Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina released from prison

Photo: PA

Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina has been freed from prison, according to reports.

Reuters says that the imprisoned member of the punk collective was released from jail today (December 23) as part of an amnesty approved by Russia's parliament earlier this week (December 18) to mark the 20th anniversary of Russia's post-Soviet constitution.

Pyotr Verzilov, the husband of fellow Pussy Riot member Nadia Tolokonnikova, said: "They've just released her." His wife is also set to be released under the amnesty, which it is believed was announced in an effort to improve Russia's image ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which begin in Sochi in January.

The amnesty will lead to the freeing of 500,000 prisoners, including the 'Arctic 30' Greenpeace protesters who were arrested earlier this year when some of the activists tried to scale Russia's first offshore oil platform. Speaking previously, Verzilov said they were "sceptical" of the amnesty, adding: "When you're living in these conditions it's hard to think about the Duma passing some bill, and it seems like it could never happen, so it's a big surprise for them that it does actually seem to be happening."

The feminist punk collective's members were given two-year sentences in August 2012 after their now infamous "punk prayer" protest at Moscow's Cathedral Of Christ The Savior. They were taken to a prison camp in Berniki in the remote Ural Mountains.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were both due to be released in 2014, having served some of their sentence prior to their trial. Earlier this year Alyokhina went on hunger strike to protest prison conditions, demanding officials got rid of the locks on the doors of workshops. She spoke to NME from prison, revealing that she didn't expect to be released before 2014.

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