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Jailed Pussy Riot Members Could Be Released This Week

Amnesty would be tied to the 20th anniversary of Russia's post-Soviet constitution

Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot.
NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/GettyImages
December 18, 2013 11:05 AM ET

Two members of Pussy Riot are expected to be released from Russian penal colonies this week as part of an amnesty tied to the 20th anniversary of Russia's post-Soviet constitution. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina could be free as soon as Thursday, according to Russian prison officials cited by The Hollywood Reporter

Pussy Riot: Their Trial in Pictures

The Pussy Riot pair have been incarcerated since March 2012, a month after they staged a punk-prayer protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin inside Moscow's main cathedral. Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and a third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, were convicted in August 2012 of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced to two years in prison. Samutsevich was later freed on appeal.

The potential amnesty for the women comes just a week after Russia's Supreme Court ordered a review of the guilty verdicts that sent Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina to labor camps, citing legal errors by the trial court that convicted them. Earlier this year, Tolokonnikova staged a hunger strike to protest conditions at her penal colony before health concerns forced her to suspend the strike. She was later transferred to a new prison in Siberia, where she was hospitalized with an unspecified illness.

Both cases drew international attention, with the likes of Paul McCartney, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sting, Bruce Springsteen and more calling on Russia to release the Pussy Riot protestors.

The lower house of Russia's parliament, the Duma, today unanimously approved the Kremlin-backed amnesty, which will take effect as soon as it is officially published. The measure covers people including mothers with dependents, minors and the elderly, and specifically mentions charges of hooliganism and participating in mass riots, Agence France-Presse reports.

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