Pussy Riot member freed by Moscow court

Moscow: A Moscow court freed Pussy Riot member Ekaterina Samutsevich at an appeal hearing on Wednesday, but ruled that two other women in the anti-Putin punk group must serve out their two-year sentences.

"I'm very happy and now I just want to recover," Samutsevich, 30, said as she stood in the driving rain outside the east Moscow courtroom.

Samutsevich walked out of the court to freedom and a media scrum after serving almost seven months in a pre-trial detention centre over an unsanctioned performance in Moscow's largest cathedral.

"I didn't expect this at all," her elderly father, Stanislav, told RIA Novosti after the decision. "But it's a real shame they didn't all get released."

Samutsevich's new lawyer, Irina Khrunova, had maintained her client had been stopped by security guards before she could take part in the group's "punk prayer" at the Christ the Savior Cathedral.

The two other group members detained after the February 21 performance, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Maria Alyokhina, 24, are now set to be transferred to a penal colony hundreds of miles from Moscow.

Their request to be allowed to serve out their sentence in a Moscow detention facility was rejected on Wednesday.

"We are glad that Ekaterina Samutsevich has been freed, but we fail to see how her role significantly differed from those of the others," lawyer Mark Feygin said after the ruling. Feygin also said the group would lodge an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights.

Another lawyer for Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina - Nikolai Polozov - expressed surprise that the court had not also freed his clients, both of whom have small children.