Russia Amnesty Law Could Free Pussy Riot, Greenpeace Activists

Change ahead of Winter Olympics next year in Sochi

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A recent change to a Russian amnesty law means that two members of the punk group Pussy Riot and dozens of Greenpeace activists could soon be freed.

Russian parliament passed the amendment to the amnesty law on Wednesday, extending pardons to people suspected of hooliganism, the Guardian reports. It will mainly impact mainly first-time offenders, minors and women with small children. The so-called Arctic 30, who were arrested aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise in September, along with Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, may be released before Christmas, the Guardian reports.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were sentenced to serve two years in prison for an anti-government punk concert at Moscow’s main cathedral last year. The change, backed by President Vladimir Putin, is a part of a campaign to improve the nation’s image ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi next year, and dovetails with the 20th anniversary of Russia’s constitution.

Though the law could take up to six months to enact, prison officials said they are ready to release the band members, who are already set to be released in March. The amendment will not be extended to Russia’s former richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was found guilty of economic crimes, or to most people on trial for protesting Putin’s inauguration last year.

[The Guardian]

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