Russian President Vladimir Putin made the surprising announcement this week that the remaining two jailed members of the internationally popular, all-female Russian punk band Pussy Riot would be freed. In revealing the decision to release them, however, Putin also called band's past behavior "degrading to women."
The two musicians, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, are serving two-year sentences under harsh conditions "for the anti-Putin 'punk prayer,' staged at Moscow’s Christ the Savior cathedral in February last year, during the election campaign before the president won his third term in power," according to The Hollywood Reporter
Their release is part of an amnesty bill, under which around 25,000 people who have committed nonviolent crimes, and those who are mothers of small children, are to be released, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which says, "Putin stressed that neither women had received any special treatment.
“This isn’t a revision of the court verdict,” he said. “This is an overall decision, which applies to them."
Prison authorities say they are waiting for documents necessary for the release of the band members, including birth certificates and other forms of identification, but they are likely to be freed before the end of the year.
"The prison amnesty, which has also brought to an end the trials against 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists arrested in seas off Russia's northern coast in September during a protest against gas drilling in the Arctic, is seen as part of a operation to clean up Russia's humanitarian image ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics, due to open in a little over six weeks," says The Hollywood Reporter.