Pussy Riot punk freed from Russian prison

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MOSCOW: Russia on Monday freed one of the jailed members of punk band Pussy Riot whose almost two-year incarceration for a performance against President Vladimir Putin prompted global outrage. The release of Maria Alyokhina from her prison in the city of Nizhny Novgorod under a Kremlin-backed amnesty was expected to be followed by that of her bandmate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova from detention in Siberia. Their release comes just three days after the shock pardoning and liberation of anti-Kremlin tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, which many saw as a bid by Putin to improve Russia’s image ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics that it is hosting in Sochi in February. Showing she had lost none of her fighting spirit during her incarceration, Alyokhina used her first interview after her release to slam the amnesty as a mere publicity stunt, and said that she would have preferred to remain in prison.

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