Pussy Riot Members Set To Be Freed Under Russian Amnesty Bill

Posted: Dec 19 2013, 9:01am CST | by , in News | Other Stuff

 

Pussy Riot Members Set to be Freed Under Russian Amnesty Bill
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Russia will soon free members of activist and protest groups under new amnesty bill. Two jailed members of Pussy Riot anti-Putin protest group and 30 crew members of Greenpeace's ship Arctic Sunrise are likely to be freed under new amnesty laws.

The Russian Parliament yesterday passed a new amnesty bill. Under the new amnesty laws, 2 jailed members of Russian feminist punk rock protest group Pussy Riot and activists of Arctic 30 Greenpeace are likely set to be freed. 

The new amnesty bill called the Kremlin-backed bill is being passed by 446-0 votes of State Duma. Russian parliament's lower house passed this amnesty bill. President Vladimir Putin proposed this new amnesty bill to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the passage of Russia's post-Soviet constitution. This new amnesty bill will allow investigators to drop charges against the 30 Greenpeace activists and Pussy Riot members.

Pussy Riot is basically a Moscow-based Russian feminist punk rock protest group. This group was founded in August 2011 and it has a variable membership of approximately 11 women ranging in age from about 20 to 33. The group members use only nicknames during interviews. They usually wear brightly colored balaclavas. 

The Pussy Riot group stage unauthorized provocative guerrilla performances in unusual public locations, which are edited into music videos and posted on the Internet. Their lyrical themes include feminism; LGBT rights, opposition to the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom they regard as a dictator, and links between the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church and Putin.

Two of the Pussy Riot members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were arrested on March 3, 2012 and charged with hooliganism. A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was arrested on March 16. Denied bail, they were held in custody until their trial began in late July. On August 17, 2012, the three members were convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”, and each was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Two other members of the Pussy Riot, who escaped arrest after February's protest, reportedly left Russia fearing prosecution. On October 10, following an appeal, Samutsevich was freed on probation, her sentence suspended. The sentences of the other two women were upheld. In late October 2012, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were separated and sent to prison.

The trial and sentence attracted considerable criticism, particularly in the West. The case was adopted by human rights groups including Amnesty International, which designated the women prisoners of conscience, and by a wide range of musicians including Madonna, Tori Amos, Courtney Love, Sting, and Yoko Ono. Public opinion in Russia was generally less sympathetic towards the women.

Putin stated then that the band had "undermined the moral foundations" of the nation and "got what they asked for". Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he did not think the three members of Pussy Riot should have been sent to jail, but stressed that the release of the remaining two imprisoned members was a matter for the courts.

However, it is Putin now who proposed this new bill. And the Pussy Riot members will get freedom now. Ms Tolokonnikova's husband Pyotr Verzilov tweeted yesterday that the officials promise to free them "right away and without bureaucratic delay, probably tomorrow".

The 30 activists are actually the 30 crew members of a Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise ship arrested due to an Arctic protest in September. Russia may free these 30 crew members under the new amnesty laws. However, it is not yet clear when these activists would be allowed to depart if freed.

Source: Sky News

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