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Pussy Riot member freed in Russia under amnesty

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Pussy Riot member freed in Russia under amnesty

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Maria Alyokhina, a member of Russian punk band Pussy Riot, has walked free from jail today, under an amnesty.

Her fellow band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, is also expected to be released later in the day.

Alyokhina, 25, and Tolokonnikova, 24, were jailed for hooliganism in 2012 for performing a crude “punk prayer” in Moscow’s main cathedral, denouncing President Vladimir Putin’s ties to the Russian Orthodox church.

The pair had been due for release in March, but qualified for the amnesty proposed by Putin, in part because they are mothers of small children. A third band member had her sentence suspended earlier this year.

Lawyers say the amnesty will also enable 30 people arrested in a Greenpeace protest against Arctic oil drilling to avoid trial – removing an irritant in ties with the West before Russia hosts the Winter Olympics in February.

On Friday, Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was also pardoned and released after more than a decade in jail on fraud and tax evasion charges.