Pussy Riot women vow to fight on after release
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Last Updated: Tuesday, December 24, 2013, 00:34
  
Moscow: The two jailed members of anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot, whose imprisonment prompted a wave of global outrage, walked free on Monday and immediately vowed to fight injustice in Russian prisons.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were released two months early under a Kremlin-backed amnesty after serving most of their two-year sentences. They immediately slammed the measure as a publicity stunt before the Olympic Games Russia will host in February.

"I don't think the amnesty is a humanitarian act, I think it's a PR stunt," the 25-year-old Alyokhina said.

The pair, who both have small children, and fellow activist Yekaterina Samutsevich were convicted on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after staging a "punk prayer" in an Orthodox cathedral in Moscow in February 2012. During the event, they asked the Virgin Mary to get rid of President Vladimir Putin.

Alyokhina was quietly whisked away from her prison colony in the city of Nizhny Novgorod while Tolokonnikova, 24, emerged in style and faced a media scrum a few hours later from a prison hospital in Krasnoyarsk in Siberia.

Wearing fishnet stockings despite temperatures of minus 25 degrees C (-13 F) and hair perfectly coiffed, Tolokonnikova said her prison time only made her more resolute in opposing Putin's rule.

"I don't consider this time wasted," the brunette said. "I became older, I saw the state from within, I saw this totalitarian machine as it is."

"Russia is built on the model of a penal colony and that is why it is so important to change the penal colonies today to change Russia," she said.

She pledged to defend prisoners' rights along with bandmate Alyokhina, saying "we would like to pursue a joint project together.

"Right now we will be discussing the structure and format of this project," Tolokonnikova said in an interview with Echo of Moscow radio.

Tolokonnikova wants to spend at least a week in Krasnoyarsk where her grandmother lives, and Alyokhina planned to join her in the Siberian city on Tuesday.

Alyokhina used her first interview after her release to slam the amnesty as a mere publicity "stunt", and said that she would have preferred to remain in prison but wasn't given a choice.

"If I had a choice to refuse (the amnesty), I would have, without a doubt," Alyokhina told Dozhd television channel.

AFP

First Published: Tuesday, December 24, 2013, 00:34


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