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Pussy Riot Members on the Verge of Early Release

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(NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images)

(NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP/Getty Images)

By Scott T. Sterling

Members of the Russian punk rock outfit Pussy Riot, jailed last year after a protest performance inside Moscow’s main cathedral, seem to be on the verge of release three months early under a new amnesty clause.

According to Reuters, the amnesty that will potentially release Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina ahead of the original March 2014 date will also allow 30 people arrested during a Greenpeace protest against arctic drilling to be freed and avoid trial. Part of the reason the Pussy Riot rockers are being set free early is due to them both having small children.

Tolokonnikova had gone missing back in November, eventually turning up after it was discovered that she’d been moved to a different penal colony.

The band’s third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, avoided jail time by appealing her sentence.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, says the amnesty was not passed with Pussy Riot or Greenpeace in mind, but to commemorate the 20th anniversary Russia’s post-Soviet constitution. It’s also been suggested that the move is to help smooth relations with the West in advance of Russia hosting the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi in Feb. 2014.

“I was not sorry that they [the Pussy Riot members] ended up behind bars,” Putin said during an annual news conference. “I was sorry that they were engaged in such disgraceful behavior, which in my view was degrading to the dignity of women. They went beyond all boundaries.”

The band has been the subject of much controversy and debate, with many artists supporting the group in their bid for freedom after the initial arrest, including Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen. They were also the subject of stunning recent documentary, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer.

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