Jailed Pussy Riot Members May Walk Free in Russia

Kathleen Jercich

As international attention turns toward Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, the Russian government seems to be hastily trying to clear up any of those high-profile human-rights violations still lingering in the headlines. On the list: the cases of Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, whose imprisonment and accusations of state-sponsored mistreatment have continued to resurface in global media after the two were arrested in 2012 for an anti-Kremlin protest in Moscow's main cathedral. Russia's Parliament passed a sweeping amnesty bill on Wednesday. Wall Street Journal reports:The bill grants amnesty to invalids, veterans, minors, pregnant women and women with young children. On Wednesday, the Duma voted to expand it to exonerate those charged with hooliganism, although not to those charged with organizing any sort of unrest … Overall, the amnesty is expected to affect the cases of around 20,000 people, although only 2,000 of those are currently incarcerated, with the rest being people on probation or awaiting trial.Those exonerated could include Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, in addition to the 30 Greenpeace members arrested in September for attempting to climb an off-shore oil platform in the Arctic. Though most of the prisoners say they're relieved, some point out that they should have never been arrested in the first place.

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Kathleen Jercich is an assistant editor at In These Times. Her work has appeared in Sacramento News and Review, BUST Magazine and on The Rumpus and Bitch Media blogs.
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