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Yekaterina Samutsevitch, the Pussy Riot member who was freed, left the court to a warm welcome from supporters.

The 30-year-old was reunited with her father, who said he was surprised she had been released.

Before the appeal he had said he did not think lawyers could do anything following Vladimir Putin’s comments at the weekend. The president said the women had got what they deserved.

“For me personally of course it’s a victory,” said Stanislav Samutsevitch. “Because this lengthy separation from my daughter had of course a terrible impact on me. She will be free, but she will still have this conviction, and her two-year sentence, even if it’s suspended, is given under charges which I believe are unfair and unattributable to what she’s done.”

Not all outside the court were Pussy Riot supporters. One religious group held a quiet protest against the punk band.

The cathedral protest went down very badly among Russia’s Orthodox faithful. One opinion poll found a large majority of Russian people thought the sentences appropriate or too lenient.

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