Jailed Pussy Riot member Maria Alekhina was released from prison on Monday (23Dec13), according to a report. The punk rocker, who was serving a two-year sentence for hooliganism, has been freed under an approved presidential amnesty bill adopted last week (ends20Dec13).
Alekhina left her prison cell in the Nizhni Novgorod region of Russia in the early hours of Monday morning, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
The rocker's fellow bandmember, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, is reportedly still behind bars, although her name is also included on a list of Russian convicts who are set to be freed before New Year's Day (01Jan14).
Alekhina and Tolokonnikova were among three members of the punk band jailed in 2012 for staging a controversial protest against Russia's President Vladimir Putin at a church in Moscow.
The third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released in October last year (12).
Russian President Vladimir Putin has branded the behaviour of jailed Pussy Riot punks Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina "humiliating for women" as they prepare to leave prison. The Pussy Riot stars, who were jailed for two years in 2012 following a protest in a Moscow church, are to be released as part of an amnesty to mark the 20th anniversary of the country's post-Soviet constitution.
Putin, who was the target of the punk stars' protest, insists he feels "pity" for them because the feminist collective has "started to engage in activities which are humiliating for women," according to British newspaper The Daily Telegraph.
He added, "It's just a PR campaign but they crossed a line... The court decided to punish them, not for that, but for other actions... The amnesty has nothing to do with... this band... We need to humanise, to make our criminal code more humane to mark the 20 year anniversary of the constitution."
The imprisoned women are due to be released from jail before New Year's Day as part of the approved presidential amnesty.
A third member of the group, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed in October last year (12) when her sentence was commuted.
Jailed Pussy Riot stars Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina are to be freed within two weeks. The women, serving two-year sentences for hooliganism, are included on a list of Russian convicts who will be released before New Year's Day (01Jan14) under an approved presidential amnesty.
Lawyers for the pair confirmed on Wednesday (18Dec13) that their names are included on the list of those to be freed in a show of compassion to mark the 20th anniversary of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
Attorney Irina Khrunova said once the list is officially published by the government, "all convicts subject to amnesty have the right to be released from prison. Tolokonnikova and Alekhina may be freed before New Year, as soon as the penal colony's governor prints the decree declaring them released from custody."
Tolokonnikova and Alekhina were among three members of the punk collective jailed last year (12) for staging a protest against President Vladimir Putin at a Moscow church.
The third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed in October last year (12).
Two jailed members of Russian punk collective Pussy Riot have taken a step closer to freedom after judges at the country's Supreme Court granted them an appeal. Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are serving two-year sentences for hooliganism over a protest against President Vladimir Putin in a case which has become a cause celebre for human rights campaigners.
The pair has been fighting a lengthy appeal process through Russia's judicial system, and judges at the Supreme Court this week (beg09Dec13) ruled there are question marks over the original case.
The panel confirmed the original trial judges overlooked possible mitigating circumstances including the lack of proof that the two women deliberately set out to offend a specific social group with their protest song performance.
Both of the jailed women are mothers, and the Supreme Court also ruled the trial judges should have considered deferring any punishment because of their family circumstances.
In their judgement, the Supreme Court panel also writes, "Furthermore, the court neglected to take into account several other considerations of significant importance for passing a fair verdict, namely, the defendants' young age, the opinion of the injured parties who did not insist on a harsh punishment, the marital status of Tolokonnikova and Alekhina, their living conditions, as well as the non-violent nature of their unlawful acts."
An appeal hearing is unlikely to take place before next year (14).
Alekhina and Tolokonnikova are due for release in March (14). A third Pussy Riot member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed in October, 2012 when her sentence was commuted.
The pair is hoping to be freed by the end of the year (13) as part of an upcoming amnesty for prisoners convicted of non-violent crimes.
Two incarcerated members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot could be home by the start of 2014 if President Vladimir Putin signs off on an amnesty deal. A Kremlin human rights adviser has revealed the Russian leader is seriously considering letting Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina walk free almost three months before their prison terms are currently set to end.
The two rockers were jailed for two years in 2012 after they were found guilty of an act of hooliganism following a protest against Putin inside a Moscow church.
According to Reuters, Putin has told his presidential human rights council to make suggestions for an amnesty to mark the 20th anniversary of the passing of Russia's post-Soviet constitution in December 1993.
Rights council chief Mikhail Fedotov believes the two jailed Pussy Riot members are on the list.
Miley Cyrus is leading the annual Time magazine readers poll to find the Person of the Year. The pop superstar, who turned 21 on Saturday (23Nov13), has landed almost double the votes of second placed Edward Snowden, the controversial former CIA computer boffin who hit headlines after disclosing classified documents.
Indian politician Narendra Modi is currently in third place, while Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin, the Presidents of Syria and Russia, respectively round out the top five.
Pakistani teen activist Malala Yousafzai, Angelina Jolie, Pope Francis, basketball star LeBron James and U.S. President Barack Obama have also picked up votes.
Time's editors' official Person of the Year will be announced on 11 December (13). Voting for the readers' choice ends on 4 December (13).
Two jailed members of punk protest group Pussy Riot are taking their fight for freedom to Russia's highest court. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina lodged documents with officials at the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on Wednesday (20Nov13) in a bid to have their two-year prison sentences overturned.
The two women argue they were unfairly punished for performing a protest song against President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow church last year (12).
Various legal appeals against their punishment have failed, so now both women have applied to judges at Russia's highest court. The move is supported by the country's Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin.
Tolokonnikova and Alekhina are both due for release in March (14). A third Pussy Riot member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed in October (12) when her sentence was commuted.
Madonna has become the latest star to call for the release of a group of Greenpeace protesters incarcerated in Russia. Twenty-eight activists for the environmental charity and two journalists were arrested in September (13) and charged on suspicion of piracy and hooliganism following a protest at sea against oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean. They are now reportedly being held at pre-trial detention centres in St Petersburg.
The issue has caught the attention of several celebrities already, Beatles legend Sir Paul McCartney wrote a letter to Russian president Vladimir Putin requesting his help in freeing the activists, and French actress Marion Cotillard spent Friday (15Nov13) in a cage on the streets of Paris with fellow environmental campaigners to demand the group's release.
Madonna has now joined the campaign by posting a picture on her Instagram.com page featuring the slogan, 'Free the Arctic 30'.
She also posted a link to a Greenpeace petition calling for the group's release, along with the caption, "These 30 people are in prison in Russia for staging a peaceful protest in the Arctic. Let your voice be heard. Let's bring these people home."
Madonna has previously thrown her support behind a campaign to free two Russian rockers from the band Pussy Riot who remain locked up in the country after performing a protest song against Putin in a Moscow church.
French actress Marion Cotillard spent Friday (15Nov13) in a cage on the streets of Paris as she joined fellow environmental campaigners to demand the release of 30 Greenpeace protesters incarcerated in Russia. The so-called Arctic 30 group, which includes two journalists, was arrested in September (13) and charged on suspicion of piracy and hooliganism after holding a demonstration against oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean.
The jailed activists, who were originally held in the city of Murmansk, were reported on Monday (11Nov13) to have been transported to pre-trial detention centres in St. Petersburg, although officials failed to give a reason for the move, sparking concerns for their safety.
Earlier this week (begs11Nov13), Sir Paul McCartney penned a letter to Vladimir Putin, urging the Russian president to intervene and help the detainees.
Now Cotillard, an outspoken Greenpeace activist, has added her voice to the cause and taken part in a peaceful demonstration outside the Palais Royal complex in the heart of Paris.
Standing silently inside the cage with other protesters, who were all dressed in red, she held up a plaque which declared: "I am a climate defender". Others held up posters bearing photos of the jailed activists, calling for their freedom.
The La Vie En Rose star later branded the detention of the Greenpeace campaigners "absolutely absurd and crazy".
Controversial Pussy Riot star Yekaterina Samutsevich has joined calls for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in her home nation of Russia. The punk rocker insists the upcoming event in Sochi is losing its focus on sport and has become highly politicised because of some of president Vladimir Putin's controversial policies, which include anti-gay legislation.
She tells Reuters, "An event which should be purely about sport is becoming highly politicised and rife with conflict. Our authorities are to blame for that... It (a boycott) has to happen because the latest policies go too far... They are obviously tightening the screws."
Samutsevich, along with her bandmates Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, was jailed in 2012 over a controversial protest track aimed at Putin which they performed at a church in Moscow.
Samutsevich was freed in October last year (12) when her sentence was commuted, and Tolokonnikova and Alekhina are set to be released in March (14).
A number of stars, including Stephen Fry, Lily Allen and Alan Cumming, have backed calls for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia to be boycotted or moved, while Madonna, Cher and Lady Gaga have all spoken out against the country's controversial anti-gay policies.