Imprisoned Pussy Riot Members to Be Released

A few months before they were scheduled to be released from prison, Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina will likely walk free due to the passage of a Russian amnesty bill.

The law was passed 446-0 on Wednesday and is focused on giving amnesty to those who aren't seen as major threats, like first-time offenders, minors and women with small children, the Guardian reports. As a bonus, it's the hope of the Russian government that giving more than 20,000 people amnesty will display the country in a more positive light in time for the Sochi Winter Olympics, an event that has been generally marred by bad press about homophobic Russian laws. The amnesty law has also been timed to the 20th anniversary of the Russian constitution.

Originally, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that the pair's crimes made them unlikely candidates for amnesty, but clearly the Russian government has changed its tune. Tolokonnikova's husband, who has been vocal about her treatment in prison, thinks his wife and Alekhina could be out of prison as soon as Thursday. "...the situation entirely depends on whether the administrations of their penal colonies want their soonest release, but I think they would not like to procrastinate the release process for the two girls," their lawyer Irina Khrunova said. Just a few days ago, there were reports that Tolokonnikova was planning on performing with a band in a few prison New Year's concerts this weekend – though those performance would definitely avoid the controversial Pussy Riot lyrics and dress that resulted in her imprisonment in the first place.

Image via Mikhail Metzel/AP