Members of Pussy Riot Mock Vladimir Putin on Their Way Out of Prison

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Maria Alyokhina, one of the Pussy Rioters, after being released. Photo: ANASTASIYA MAKARYCHEVA/AFP/Getty Images

As expected, the two still-imprisoned members of Pussy Riot were released today, thanks to an amnesty bill introduced by President Vladimir Putin. The women were very grateful for Putin’s gracious act of magnanimity. 

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I would like to see Putin as a clement leader, but he is far from it,” Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, told NBC News through a translator after she was released from the prison in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. “I see it as a weakness because to free us when we have until two months left is not much after we have served two years. I would see it as a strength if he would free other political prisoners.” 

So, so grateful:

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,” she said, referring to the Winter Games Russia is hosting in February. “But I don’t consider this humane or merciful.”

She added, “This is a lie.”

“We didn’t ask for any pardon,” Ms. Alyokhina said. “I would have sat here until the end of my sentence because I don’t need mercy from Putin.” The women had been jailed since March 2012 and would have been released within the next three months.