Toronto Diary
1 min

Two members of Pussy Riot released, but they’re not happy about it

In what many are assuming is an attempt to soften Russia’s human rights image before the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Vladimir Putin passed a new amnesty law earlier this week that would effectively free those jailed for minor crimes. Like, say, protesters.

You know where this is going, right? Well, thanks to the new law, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot were released on Monday, Dec 23, just a few months shy of their full two-year sentence. And they are NOT happy about it. Not one bit.

[Image via Wikipedia]

In a telephone interview with The New York Times, Alyokhina denounced the amnesty laws, saying, “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 then doubled down on her statement, saying that she would have rather served her full sentence: “We didn’t ask for any pardon . . . I would have sat here until the end of my sentence because I don’t need mercy from Putin.” 

While I appreciate Alyokhina’s commitment to the cause, let’s try to divorce what happened from the fact that Putin’s obviously trying to rehabilitate his public image on the world stage: Pussy Riot can do a lot more out of jail than they can in it. They’re free now, and that means they can go out and do some real good and draw attention to Russia’s numerous societal ills. Yes, Putin’s a bag of hamster turds with a fine dusting of assholishness, but Pussy Riot, as a band of activists, can do a lot more good for their country than they could as prisoners.