Pussy Riot to finally walk free this week

A report from the Guardian suggests the imprisoned activists could be home as early as Thursday

Published December 18, 2013 1:50PM (EST)

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich of Pussy Riot             (AP/Misha Japaridze)
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich of Pussy Riot (AP/Misha Japaridze)

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, the two incarcerated members of Pussy Riot, will be released from prison this week, potentially as early as Thursday, according to a report from the Guardian.

The Russian parliament voted Wednesday to approve an amnesty law that would grant reprieve to first-time offenders, minors and women with young children. The deal still must be signed by President Vladimir Putin, which is expected to happen this week.

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Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, of the punk-group Pussy Riot, are serving two-year sentences for staging an impromptu punk performance in Moscow's main cathedral early last year.

Petya Verzilov, Tolokonnikova's husband, said he believed an order had been given to speed up the process. Although technically releases could take up to six months to be processed from the day the law is published, officials at both prisons have indicated they are ready to release the Pussy Riot duo as soon as the law is passed, he said. Verzilov indicated he expected them to be released as soon as Thursday.

Alyokhina is serving her time in a prison in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, while Tokolonnikova was recently moved from Mordovia, a region known for its Soviet-era gulags, to the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. She has said that the conditions are incomparably better than in Mordovia, from where she published a long open letter detailing slave-like conditions of forced labour and cruel punishments.

"They are slightly sceptical of course," Verzilov told the Guardian. "When you're living in these conditions it's hard to think about the Duma passing some bill, and it seems like it could never happen, so it's a big surprise for them that it does actually seem to be happening."

The Greenpeace Arctic 30 may also be released in time to return home before the Christmas holiday.

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Greenpeace Arctic 30 Prison Pussy Riot Russia Vladimir Putin