Jailed Pussy Riot Members Could Be Released Early Under New Amnesty Bill

11:15 AM PST 12/10/2013 by Vladimir Kozlov
Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Russia's Supreme Court has already declared the verdict against the punk rockers to be illegal.

MOSCOW – The jailed members of Pussy Riot could be released early under a proposed amnesty bill quoted by the Kremlin-friendly newspaper Izvestiya. Meanwhile, Russia’s Supreme Court ruled that last year’s verdict against Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina was illegitimate and sent the case back for reconsideration.

The amnesty bill, which is expected to be passed before the end of this year on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Russia’s Constitution, would allow early release for mothers convicted of non-violent crimes. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, both mothers of young children and convicted on hooliganism charges, would qualify for early release.

However, the bill is to be enacted within six months of its adoption. The two Pussy Riot musicians, who are serving two-year sentences for the anti-Putin "punk prayer" in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012, are to be released in April 2014 anyway.

Meanwhile, there might be another ground for the two women’s early release. On Dec. 10, the Russian human rights organization Agora issued a press release saying that the Russian Supreme Court’s board for criminal cases ruled that the earlier verdict in the Pussy Riot case was illegal. Now the case will have to be reconsidered to the presidium of the Moscow city court.

"We don’t yet know what the motivations and grounds [for the decision] are," Irina Khrunova, a lawyer for Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, was quoted as saying by Gazeta.ru. "This could be lack of corpus delicti, the wrong sentencing or some technicalities."

A date for reconsidering the case by the Moscow city court hasn’t been set yet.

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