Pussy Riot Member Free After Putin Pardoning, Band Members Urge Olympic Boycott

Has Russia gotten into the holiday sprit of forgiveness after all? Two imprisoned Pussy Riot members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, were finally freed Monday — just three months before their sentence was up. (The third band member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed on probation last year.) The three women were originally serving two-year sentences for "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" after they performed an obscenity-laced protest song in an Orthodox cathedral in Russia. Monday's release is thanks Russian President Vladamir Putin and a new Russian amnesty bill. But don't think the activists will be silenced by the gesture —the women in the punk protest band are already calling their release a publicity stunt, and are even calling for an Olympic boycott.

“I think this is an attempt to improve the image of the current government, a little, before the Sochi Olympics — particularly for the Western Europeans,” Alyokhina said, adding she would have preferred to finish out her sentence. “But I don’t consider this humane or merciful.”

Tolokonnikova called for a protest of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

"I'm calling for a boycott, for honesty. I'm calling [on Western governments] not to give in because of oil and gas deliveries from Russia."

And don't worry about these activists mellowing anytime soon.

"The only thing they have acquired over their two years in prison is their confidence to continue fighting Putin's regime even harder, because, well, this is the only thing that can change things in our country," Tolokonnikova's husband said.

Pussy Riot's pardon came about when Putin told Parliament to pass an amnesty bill for those who had committed non-violent crimes. With the release of the highly-contentious Pussy Riot members, Russia may be trying to appease an international community that places a high value on free speech. (Last week, Putin also pardoned oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky for fraud and tax evasion, and certain Greenpeace members.) Analyses suggested at the time the move was also one meant to bolster goodwill in light of the upcoming Olympics.

Putin says he did not order the legislation with either the activists or the Pussy Riot members 'in mind.' Doubtful.

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