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Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina Released From Prison

Pussy Riot - A Controversy in Russia and Around the Globe
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The punk rocker condemned her release as a PR stunt staged by Russian President Putin, while her fellow band member, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, is reportedly still in prison.

MOSCOW -- Maria Alyokhina, one of the two jailed members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot, was freed early Monday.

She left prison in Nizhny Novgorod, north of Moscow, driven out a back exit by officials keen to avoid a waiting press pack at the front, just days after the Russian parliament unanimously approved an amnesty bill that will also free Greenpeace's "Arctic 30" environmental activists.

Fellow Pussy Riot member, Nadezhda Tolokinnova, who is in a prison hospital in Siberia, is expected to be released later Monday.

STORY: Putin Scolds Pussy Riot, But Approves Their Release From Prison

"Maria Alyokhina has been released," her lawyer Piotr Zaikin said. "All the documents have been prepared and signed."

Alokyhna reportedly went straight to the office of a local human rights NGO, Committee Against Torture, to begin making phone calls.

Showing characteristic vim, Alokhyna condemned her release as a political stunt by President Vladimir Putin.

"I don't think it's an amnesty, it's a profanation," she told independent TV station Dozhd in her first media comments since her release. The amnesty applied to only a tiny minority of convicts. "I don't think the amnesty is a humanitarian act; it's a PR stunt."

Lawyer Zaikan said Alokhyna plans to return to Moscow, two hours away by train, later today.

Earlier, there were media reports that Alyokhina didn't want to leave the prison out of fear for the safety of her fellow inmates.

Pussy Riot's other jailed member, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, is reportedly still in her prison in the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk, although prison authorities said last week that all necessary documents for her release were prepared.

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

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, who received two-year sentences for the anti-Putin "punk prayer" at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012, are being released under an amnesty bill adopted on the occasion of the Russian Constitution’s 20th anniversary, for prisoners who committed nonviolent crimes and mothers of small children.

They were originally expected to be freed on Dec. 19, the day the amnesty bill was enacted, but their release took some time to process.