Russia adopts amnesty likely to free Pussy Riot, help Greenpeace 30

Reuters
CORRECTS LEFT TO RIGHT  Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Yekaterina Samutsevich,  Maria Alekhina,  and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Wednesday. Oct. 10, 2012. Three members of the punk band Pussy Riot are set to make their case before a Russian appeals court that they should not be imprisoned for their irreverent protest against President Vladimir Putin. Their impromptu performance inside Moscow's main cathedral in February came shortly before Putin was elected to a third term. The three women were convicted in August of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced to two years in prison. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)
.

View gallery

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's parliament on Wednesday approved an amnesty which lawyers said would free two jailed members of punk band Pussy Riot and enable 30 people arrested in a Greenpeace protest against Arctic oil drilling avoid trial.

The lower house of parliament passed the amnesty, which President Vladimir Putin proposed to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the passage of Russia's post-Soviet constitution.

Lawyers said the amnesty, which could enter into force this week, would lead to the early release of Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, whose two-year sentences over an anti-Putin protest in a cathedral have been criticized in the West as excessive.

Greenpeace said a last-minute amendment to the amnesty meant Russia would almost certainly end legal proceedings against 30 people who faced jail terms of up to seven years if convicted over a protest at an offshore oil platform in September. This would allow the 26 foreigners among them to go home.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

View Comments (130)