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Pussy Riot Case: Jailed Band Members Could Be Freed Thursday, Say Insiders

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova H
Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Sources close to the band say that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina might be released Dec. 19, under a new amnesty bill currently working its way through Russian Parliament.

MOSCOW – Jailed Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina could be released this week under an amnesty bill that was adopted by the State Duma, the lower chamber of Russian Parliament, in the first reading Dec. 17.

Under the bill, on the occasion of the Russian Constitution's 20-year anniversary, which is expected to pass the second and third readings Dec. 18, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, both convicted for non-violent crimes and mothers of small children, qualify for an early release.

STORY: Pussy Riot Case: Russian Supreme Court Details Errors in Guilty Verdict

Sources close to the band say that the two punk musicians, serving two-year sentences for the anti-Putin “punk prayer” at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012, are likely to be released immediately, although amnesty releases could technically take up to six months.

“In relation to [Tolokonnikova] and [Alyokhina], there will be no 'six-month application,' ” the art group Voina, linked to Pussy Riot, said on its Twitter account @gruppa_voina. “Penitentiary officials are saying that they will be released at once, on Thursday (Dec. 19).”

Meanwhile, on Dec. 16, prison officials in Siberia’s Krasnoyarsk region, where Tolokonnikova is serving her sentence, said that she will remain in hospital through the end of her sentence, which ends March 2014, the Russian wire service Interfax reported.

Tolokonnikova’s lawyer would not disclose what she is being treated for, but said it was not tuberculosis.

Earlier this month, Russia’s Supreme Court reviewed the verdict against the Pussy Riot members and ruled it “unlawful.” The case would have to be reconsidered by the Moscow city court, which issued the original sentence August 2012.