Pussy Riot activists attack Putin as they walk out of jail

Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina say their release from prison is a 'publicity stunt'

LAST UPDATED AT 14:25 ON Mon 23 Dec 2013

IF RUSSIAN president Vladimir Putin was hoping the jailed members of the activist group Pussy Riot would thank him for setting them free, he would have been sorely disappointed.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova shouted "Russia without Putin" as she walked out of the prison hospital in the Siberian town of Krasnoyarsk today, the BBC reports.

Maria Alyokhina (picture above), who was jailed along with Tolokonnikova for two years for performing an anti-Putin "punk prayer" in a Moscow cathedral, described her release as a cynical "publicity stunt". She added that she would have refused early release if she had had the choice.

"First of all I don't think it is an amnesty, it is a profanity, because it does not free even ten per cent of prisoners," said 25-year-old Alyokhina after her release. "Secondly this amnesty does not apply to most mothers and pregnant women [in jail] 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 is amnesty is a humanitarian act – it's a publicity stunt."

Both women have been released two and a half months early thanks to an amnesty passed by the Russian parliament last month to mark the 20th year of the Russian constitution. President Putin has supported the measure, which has been widely interpreted as a move to enhance Russia's international image ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics which begin in February.

The amnesty, which is expected to affect about 20,000 prisoners jailed for minor crimes, will also see the release of 30 Greenpeace activists arrested during a peaceful protest in the Arctic.

On Friday, Mikhail Khodorkovsky - once Russia's richest man and one of Putin's most outspoken "political foes" – was released from jail after being pardoned by the Russian president. Khordorkovsky was jailed in 2005 after he was convicted of theft and money laundering, but many considered him a political dissident.

A third member of Pussy Riot, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on a suspended sentence in October 2012.  · 

Disqus - noscript

Escape to the West and appear on Top of the Pops with your new single "Why oh why dear Putin, did you put us away? Why oh why dear Putin, can't we have our say?"

Hi,
Pussy Riot activists attack Putin as they walk out of jail.
First I congratulate the lady’s on “freedom”. I have regularly e-mail “Pravda” to lobby President Putin. However reading the interviews of the lady’s they had better condition than I imprisoned in Holland. Having to my knowledge through deeds or records, no criminal record I was put in a Dutch internment for over a year. In a 4 m by 6m room with a table chair and bed sharing a toilet and shower with 15 people. The people who were there know this, those that work there know this, and those who died there probably know this, the only people who don’t know this are the people who send you there. The Pussy Riot activists had one advantage over me, they at least had a trial, and I had none.

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.