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Russia passes amnesty bill, Pussy Riot expected to be freed

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - 01:38

Dec. 18 - Russia's lower house of parliament passes an amnesty bill that is expected to free members of Pussy Riot and help Greenpeace activists avoid trial for a protest. Nathan Frandino reports.

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A newly passed amnesty bill could free the two remaining jailed members of Pussy Riot. This comes after Russia's lower house of parliament passed a bill that would free many elderly and youth inmates and women with young children. President Vladimir Putin introduced the bill last week to mark the 20th anniversary of Russia's post-Soviet constitution. Lawyers for Pussy Riot say the amnesty would free Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina. They were sentenced to two years in prison on hooliganism charges for an anti-Putin protest at a Russian orthodox cathedral. Tolokonnikova's husband, Peter Verzilov, says the bill makes little difference. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) PUSSY RIOT MEMBER NADEZHDA TOLOKONNIKOVA'S HUSBAND, PETER VERZILOV, SAYING: "It is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they have served their term. On the other hand, it is a chance to show off some government concessions at the end of the term. They can show to the West that amnesty has been applied. It can also have an effect on some circles within Russia." The amnesty could also help 30 Greenpeace activists avoid trial. They were arrested after a protest against Arctic oil drilling in September. People on Moscow streets were generally positive about the amnesty. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) MOSCOW RESIDENT NADEZHDA, SAYING: "I think that any amnesty is always good. It is just another chance for people to start their lives afresh and revisit their views. Of course, every case is an individual one and I hope that the amnesty will be considered individually, not by the whole scope." Putin says the bill underscores the "humanism" of the state.

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Russia passes amnesty bill, Pussy Riot expected to be freed

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - 01:38