December 23, 2013 18:15

Both members of Pussy Riot released from jail

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has called for a boycott of the upcoming Russian held Winter Olympics

Both members of Pussy Riot released from jail

Photo: PA

Both jailed members of Pussy Riot have been freed from prison.

News of Maria Alyokhina's release was followed by the announcement of the release of fellow activist and bandmate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova earlier today (December 23). After her release from prison in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, Tolokonnikova shouted "Russia without Putin" and also, reports BBC News, called for a boycott of February 2014's Russian held Winter Olympics, saying her release was "just cosmetic". She added: "I saw this small totalitarian machine from the inside. Russia indeed works just the way the prison colony. That's why it's so important to change colonies so that Russia would change, too," reports The Guardian. A third member of the group, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on probation in October 2012.

Maria Alyokhina, who was released from a different prison outside of Nizhny Novgorod today, also criticised Russian authorities upon her release, describing it as a "PR stunt". Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were released as part of an amnesty approved by Russia's parliament last week to mark the 20th anniversary of Russia's post-Soviet constitution.

Speaking to Russian television shortly after her release, Alyokhina said she would have preferred to have stayed in prison and that she would have turned down the amnesty release if she had been able to. "If I'd had an option to refuse the amnesty, I would have do so without any doubts," she said, according to Reuters.

"First of all I don't think it is an amnesty, it is a profanity, because it does not even free 10 per cent of prisoners. Secondly this amnesty does not apply to most [imprisoned] mothers and pregnant women because they are accused of very serious crimes. And the conditions these mothers are being held in do nothing for rehabilitation. So I don't think this amnesty is a humanitarian act - it's a PR stunt." It is alleged that the amnesty was announced in an effort to improve Russia's image ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, which begin in Sochi.

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. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were both due to be released in 2014, having served some of their sentence prior to their trial. Earlier this year both Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova went on hunger strike to protest prison conditions.

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