Both jailed members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been released from jail under an amnesty law.
In a telephone interview on Monday, Ms. Alyokhina said that she did not want amnesty, and that officials had forced her to leave the prison. She said that the amnesty program was designed to make Mr. Putin look benevolent, and that she would have preferred to serve the remainder of her sentence.
Maria Alyokhina: "I intend to pursue a career in human rights"
“I think this is an attempt to improve the image of the current government, a little, before the Sochi Olympics — particularly for the Western Europeans,” she said, referring to the Winter Games Russia is hosting in February. “But I don’t consider this humane or merciful.” She added, “This is a lie.” “We didn’t ask for any pardon,” Ms. Alyokhina said. “I would have sat here until the end of my sentence because I don’t need mercy from Putin.” The women had been jailed since March 2012 and would have been released within the next three months.
The final jailed member of the Russian punk bank Pussy Riot released from custody following an amnesty law passed by parliament, calls for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.
Talking to reporters as she walked freely through the streets of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Tolokonnikova lambasted the amnesty as window-dressing by the Kremlin ahead of the Sochi Games, and urged European countries to consider an Olympic boycott. Tolokonnikova also insisted that her time in prison had not been wasted.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova after leaving prison on Monday.
Tolokonnikova left the prison hospital in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, on Monday afternoon. She shouted "Russia without Putin" as she emerged, calling the amnesty "another show ahead of the Olympics". "But let us remember about all those people who are not much talked about and are even forgotten but who still need to come out of their jails as they don't belong here," she said.
"I have acquired a unique experience and it will be much easier for me to engage in human rights activities than before. I've matured and learned about the state from within, I've seen this small totalitarian machine as it is from the inside. Russia is built on a prison colony. That is why it is so important to change the prison system in order to change Russia," she told reporters. She told reporters that she and Alekhina will form a group to engage in the human rights movement.
Russian activist/musician speaks out after being released from prison after nearly two years
On Monday, Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina was freed from jail after nearly two years of imprisonment for hooliganism. She immediately got to work. Within an hour of being released, she met with human rights defenders from the Committee Against Torture to discuss reforming Russia's prisons. The 25-year-old musician-activist also found time to speak with Rolling Stone about the reasons behind her release, the future of Pussy Riot and how she planted the seeds of prison reform on the inside.
How does it feel to be free? You know, I was always free, because I felt free. It's very important to be free inside. The most important thing is to feel free. You have the right to choose. Becoming conscious of that fact delivers a person.
Why did they release you now? Simply because of Sochi. They wanted to make themselves more attractive before the Olympic games. That's why they decided to do the amnesty. But the amnesty is not general — it's a lie. I'm the only one who's been released [from camp] and that's the problem. They won't let anyone else out. Formally, it's a general amnesty, but it's a lie. Is it true you wanted to turn down the amnesty? I wanted to. I wanted to, but unfortunately it wasn't in my power. If I had had any possibility of doing so, I definitely would have refused this amnesty. I don't need it. I'm not guilty, I'm not a criminal, I don't consider it mercy.
Will Pussy Riot continue to exist? [Pauses] I think it's best if we give more details when we appear together so there is no dissonance. We need to meet first. Everything needs to be talked about with Nadya. Whatever we do, will definitely be connected with that sort of action that we found effective. And on top of that, I would say that if a person is connected with art, it's forever. It's impossible to stop. It's something inside. But you're planning to do something together? It'll be a human rights defense organization, but of a new kind. We're going to use the brightness and illumination of media resources to reveal problems, focusing on the camps, but also perhaps more generally. We're still deciding on the form, but me and her are unanimous about this. How were the last few months in prison? My life's been very active so I haven't felt like a prisoner. I've been doing human rights [work], explaining to the women how they can solve their complaints themselves. And what's happened is that these women have decided to start taking up their problems with the administration themselves. This voice that has appeared here is so important. Because when a person in a Russian prison decides to start speaking, to start speaking the truth — they start to reject oppression. It's a very important, very significant thing. Russian prisoners have to work 12-hour days and receive — you won't believe this — between one and 10 euros for a month's work. That's not enough for anything. Everyone knows this is unfair, but they couldn't prove [it]. I suggested how to prove it.
Russia passed an amnesty rule seen internationally as a move to repair the nation's human rights record. One member of the crew protesting Arctic drilling still faces criminal charges.
Russian investigators have dropped charges against the crew of a Greenpeace ship, who were accused of hooliganism following a protest outside a Russian oil rig in the Arctic, the group said Wednesday. The criminal charges against all but one member of the crew were closed under an amnesty that was passed by the parliament earlier in December, seen by many as an attempt by the Kremlin to dampen the criticism of Russia’s human-rights record before the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.
Activist Miguel Hernan Perez Orsi of Argentina was one of the 30 freed
Foreign members of the crew have already applied to the Russian authorities for exit visas to leave Russia and expect to get them in the next few days. The 30 crew members aboard the Greenpeace ship were detained in September and held in custody for two months before they were released on bail in November. They were originally charged with piracy, but that was then downgraded to hooliganism.
Greenpeace activist Faiza Oulahsen from the Netherlands showing her palm reading 'Save the Arctic' during a hearing at Primorskiy Court in Saint Petersburg on Nov. 20.
Two members of Russian punk protest band Pussy Riot are reunited hours after they were freed from jail.
Alekhina flew into the eastern Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk early on Tuesday to meet Tolokonnikova. They have said the amnesty and their release was a publicity stunt by the Kremlin ahead of the Olympics. Tolokonnikova has also called for a boycott of the Olympics.
Alekhina, still dressed in a dark-green prison jacket, hugged Tolokonnikova and then shook hands. Both women reiterated their statement on Monday that they intend to work to help prisoners, and that they will discuss setting up a human rights organisation. A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on a suspended sentence shortly after the three were found guilty of hooliganism and sentenced to two years in prison in 2012 for their protest at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow.