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Cautious welcome from EU to Pussy Riot release in Russia

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Cautious welcome from EU to Pussy Riot release in Russia

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The European Union has welcomed the release from jail in Russia of the two Pussy Riot activists, adding that it hoped other prisoners would also be freed and that the Greenpeace arctic protest case would be closed.

“Today, the release of two members of the Pussy Riot band is a positive development, said Sebastien Brabant, deputy spokesman for the EU’s foreign policy chief. “We strongly encourage Russia to pursue its reforms towards a transparent, independent and reliable judicial system and to uphold its commitments to human rights, to non-discrimination and the rule of law.”

Hundreds, many hope thousands, of prisoners are expected to be freed under the amnesty law. In Moscow Alexei Pushkov, Chairman of the Foreign affairs committee in the Duma, Russia’s parliament, said it would help ease relations between Russia and the West.

“With regard to the image of Russia and the relations with our Western partners, I think (the amnesty) removes some (difficult) factors in the relationship. But I don’t think it will affect (anything) in a decisive way because those who rely on confrontation with Russia will find other reasons (to attack us),” Pushkov told a news conference.

The EU has also called for the release of people detained in the Bolotnaya case, following anti-government protests last year.

More than two dozen were arrested, accused of rioting or attacking police. Only four have reportedly been freed under the amnesty. The case has been criticised as politically-motivated.

Human rights activists say tens of thousands of other people in Russia remain in pre-trial detention.