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Pussy Riot members to be freed from prison after passage of Russian amnesty law

Demonstrators hold flags and a portrait, front, of jailed punk band Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, during an opposition rally in Moscow, 6 April 2013.
Demonstrators hold flags and a portrait, front, of jailed punk band Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, during an opposition rally in Moscow, 6 April 2013.

AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

PEN American Center is delighted by news of the impending release from prison of Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina under an amnesty law passed unanimously by the Russian Duma today, and urges President Putin to sign the law immediately.

"With their passion, bravery, and outrageous costumes, the young women of Pussy Riot sparked a new generation of activists worldwide to see the power of artistic expression and the potential for people of conviction anywhere to use their talents to stand for human rights and individual freedoms," said Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN American Center. "Their plight, an emblem of the brazen repression of free expression under Putin, galvanized writers and activists throughout the PEN network and beyond to stand in solidarity for their freedom. Their courage is an inspiration.

"The prosecution and imprisonment of these women was a betrayal of international protections for freedom of expression and a disturbing mark of the Putin government's intolerance for dissent. The Russian government's decision to finally allow the remaining jailed members of Pussy Riot to walk free is overdue, but welcome nonetheless. We call on the Putin government to respect their rights-and those of all Russian people-to communicate, create, and champion their own beliefs freely."

Tolokonnikova and Alekhina are the only remaining members of Pussy Riot in prison on charges of "hooliganism" for writing and performing songs of protest.

PEN Members in the United States and worldwide have campaigned for their release for almost two years since their arrest in March 2012, translating their works, organizing readings, and carrying out letter-writing and email campaigns to express solidarity with the band members and their families, and to press the Russian government for justice.

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