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Pussy Riot Member Freed from Jail After Successful Appeal

Pussy Riot
Mario Tama, Getty Images

Russia’s fearsome 99 percent court conviction rate took a tiny hit today, as a panel of judges has decided to overturn the conviction of one Pussy Riot member and release her on appeal.

The prisoner, Yekaterina Samutsevich, had served six months of her two-year sentence, but the panel agreed with her lawyers’ argument that she hadn’t been a full participant in the 2011 performance that instigated legal proceedings against the band. As the Guardian reports, Samutsevich claimed she hadn’t been responsible for the “aggressive movements” that led to Pussy Riot being charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.”

While Samutsevich’s release is a somewhat surprising victory for pro-Pussy Riot forces, it hasn’t really helped her former fellow prisoners; band members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were ordered to complete the remainder of their sentences in prison colonies. Alyokhina pled her case from within a glass cage, telling the judges, “I have lost all hope in the court. But I want again and for the last time, because we probably won’t get another chance, to talk about our motives. Dear believers, we did not want to offend you.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin, who was the focus of the performance that started all the trouble, was quoted in a recent documentary as saying that while he didn’t influence the verdict in the case, “They got what they asked for.”

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