Pussy Riot Members to Be Freed, Vladimir Putin Confirms

Pussy Riot Members to Be Freed, Vladimir Putin Confirms
Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed that Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina are set to be freed from prison despite their "disgraceful" protest.

As Reuters reports, the punk musicians' imminent freedom was announced today (December 19) by Putin in a press conference, where he explained that a new amnesty law pardoning those "who haven't committed violent crimes, first-time offenders, minors and women with small children" was the reason behind the decision. It had been hinted at earlier this week that the two Pussy Riot members would be released under the new law.

While pressure had been put on Russian officials over the last several months to have Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina released, Putin added that the new amnesty law was not written with the band in mind, nor a group of 30 Greenpeace protesters also to be released.

"I was not sorry that they [the Pussy Riot members] ended up behind bars," Putin said. "I was sorry that they were engaged in such disgraceful behaviour, which in my view was degrading to the dignity of women."

Pussy Riot's struggles started nearly two years ago following a performance of a "punk prayer" staged in a Moscow church. The song, "Punk Prayer: Mother of God Drive Putin Away," was never played in full. The quick protest found Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Ekaterina Samusevich incarcerated for months, and later handed a two-year sentence for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" in August 2012.

A chain of events followed that saw Samusevich's early release, parole denials, hunger strikes, the disappearance of Tolokonnikova during a prison transfer and more.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina have not yet commented on their impending release.