Russian President Putin Backs Amnesty That Could Free Imprisoned Pussy Riot Members

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that he backed proposals for an amnesty for thousands of prisoners, and his rights advisor says that could free the two imprisoned Pussy Riot women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina.

“I agree… that such actions must be pacifying,” Putin said in televised comments.

“This amnesty can only apply to individuals who did not commit grave crimes or crimes involving violence against representatives of the authorities, by this I mean law enforcement officers,” Putin told Mikhail Fedotov, head of the presidential rights council, an independent advisory body, and Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin.

“I agree with you that such actions should underscore the humanism of our state,” Putin said, “but they certainly must not … give anyone the impression they can commit a crime today and count on forgiveness from the state tomorrow.”

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are due for release in March after serving two-year sentences for Pussy Riot’s “punk prayer” protest against Putin in Russia’s main cathedral in February 2012.

The amnesty could free up to 100,000 prisoners, Fedotov said, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

Fedotov told journalists the amnesty could free the Pussy Riot members.

“I think that yes of course,” Fedotov said. “After all that [what the Pussy Riot members did] was not a violent crime.”

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— A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post —

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