Pussy Riot Members Want Rest of Prison Term to be Replaced With Community Service

8:12 AM PST 08/23/2013 by Vladimir Kozlov
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Pussy Riot

The jailed performers are seeking to take advantage of a clause in Russian law that would let them be released prior to the end of their sentences in March 2014.

MOSCOW – The jailed members of Pussy Riot are filing a request to have the remainder of their prison term replaced with community service.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina intend to take advantage of a clause in the Russian law that allows convicts serving prison terms for "nonviolent crimes" to be released and serve the rest of their terms doing "correctional works," which basically means community service.

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On Aug. 23, the Russian daily Kommersant said it had obtained petitions by Irina Khrunova, a lawyer for Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, which she will file to courts in the Mordovia and Perm regions, where the two punk rockers are incarcerated.

Both Tolokonnikova and Alyoukhina, who were sentenced to two-year prison terms for staging a "punk prayer" protest against president Vladimir Putin at Moscow’s Christ the Savior cathedral in February 2012, were denied parole earlier this summer. Their sentences are set to end in March 2014. The third Pussy Riot member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on probation last October.

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According to Khrunova, the main ground on which the feminist punk rockers could be released from prison and do community service instead is the fact that both have small children.

Under the Russian criminal code, convicts released to serve the rest of their sentences doing community service can choose jobs by themselves. During the parole hearings, when the availability of a job could have been a factor in favor of granting parole, Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of independent publication Novaya Gazeta, gallery owner Marat Guelman and actress Chulpan Khamatova, who also heads the charity Podari Zhizn, said they were ready to employ Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina.

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