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Pussy Riot members freed from Russian jail

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, two members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot, were freed from jail on Monday after being granted amnesty last week.

Pussy riot member freed maria alyokhinaEnlarge
Maria Alyokhina, one of the jailed members of anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot is pictured after beeing freed in Nizhny Novgorod on December 23, 2013. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, two members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot, were freed from jail Monday after being granted amnesty last week.

Tolokonnikova was freed from a prison hospital in Siberia, while Alyokhina was released earlier in the day in Nizhny Novgorod.

They were accused of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred," for performing a protest song in a Moscow cathedral and jailed in August 2012.

A third member of Pussy Riot, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on a suspended sentence just months after she was also found guilty of the hooliganism charge.

More from GlobalPost: In-depth series: Pussy Riot found guilty

Both Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were expected to be freed by March 2014, but were released early after Russia's parliament passed a law last week giving amnesty to some 20,000 prisoners.

In a telephone interview with The New York Times on Monday, Alyokhina said she had been forced to leave the prison, despite wanting to serve the remaining months of her sentence.

"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. "But I don’t consider this humane or merciful."

She added, "This is a lie."

"We didn't ask for any pardon," said Alyokhina. "I would have sat here until the end of my sentence because I don't need mercy from Putin."

Tolokonnikova also noted that she and Alyokhina plan to form a human rights group.

She said: "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."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/131223/pussy-riot-freed-russian-jail