Thursday, December 19, 2013

Russia May Free Pussy Riot Band Members Early

To mark the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution, Russia's State Duma yesterday by a vote of 446-0 passed a broad prison amnesty bill applying to various categories of offenders and offenses.  Radio Free Europe reports that since the amnesty covers those sentenced for hooliganism, it apparently includes the two jailed members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot. In August 2012, the band members were arrested after they entered a nearly empty Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow and performed an obscene "punk prayer" in protest of the Russian Orthodox Church's political support for Vladimir Putin. (See prior posting.) Their sentences are up in March without the amnesty. The amnesty law goes into effect as soon as it is published in  "Rossiiskaya Gazeta," the government newspaper-- which is expected to happen today. Some suggest that the amnesty law is an attempt to bolster Russia's human rights image ahead of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi.

UPDATE: CNN reports (Dec. 23) that the two Pussy Riot band members have been released from prison.

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