Pussy Riot Would Have Stayed In Prison If They Could

Russian punk collective calls their release a publicity ploy ahead of the Olympics.

Two members of punk collective Pussy Riot were released from prison in Russia this week, joining a third member who was freed last year. The women, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, gained their freedom via a new amnesty law courtesy of President Vladimir V. Putin, a pardon that they would have rejected given their belief that the law was merely a publicity ploy.

“I was keen to reject this amnesty, but the prison had received an order,” Alyokhina told The Guardian. “That’s why I was brought here. Now I would like to meet human rights activists. And I would now like to deal with the issue of prison. I would like to engage in the human rights activity. Now I’m not afraid of anything anymore, believe me.”

The two were released under the new law because they both have small children. A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was given a suspended sentence on appeal last year, according to The Guardian.

The punk collective was arrested for “hooliganism” in March 2012 after performing an anti-Putin “punk prayer” at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral. They were sentenced to two years in prison, and were slated for release in March 2014.

“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,” Alyokhina told the New York Times. “But I don’t consider this humane or merciful.”

The upcoming Olympic games in Russia have raised a lot of issues around the world with regard to civil rights; President Barack Obama has declined to attend the games following the institution of new national laws in Russia banning “gay propaganda,” reports NPR. Obama was also a supporter of Pussy Riot.

Despite their newfound freedom, we can expect anything but silence from the liberated members of Pussy Riot. “Everything is just starting, so fasten your seat belts,” Tolokonnikova said upon her release from a Siberian prison, according to Reuters.

Brenna Ehrlich is a reporter for MTV News as well as the senior writer/editor for the O Music Awards. In the past, she served as associate editor at Mashable, penned a netiquette column for CNN and co-authored the blog and book "Stuff Hipsters Hate." She likes trying not to die in moshpits and listening to songs on repeat. Follow her on Twitter @BrennaEhrlich for news on cats and punk bands.