Pussy Riot and Arctic 30 "Hooligans" to be Released From Russian Prison

| Thu Dec. 19, 2013 4:30 PM EST

The two jailed members of the punk band Pussy Riot are set to be released from prison following an amnesty bill passed by the Russian parliament last night. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were convicted of "hooliganism" and sentenced to two years in prison after they staged a protest against Putin and the Russian Orthodox church last year.

Also likely to be released are the members of the "Arctic 30," a group of Greenpeace activists who staged a protest against drilling in the Arctic by boarding a Russian oil rig in September. The activists have spent two months in jail under charges of hooliganism. Peter Wilcox, the American captain of the Greenpeace ship that was raided by Russian authorities, says that while he's happy to be going home, "I should never have been charged and jailed in the first place."

The passage of the amnesty bill comes amid growing scrutiny of the Putin administration's crack-down on gay rights. In June, Putin signed into law a bill banning the "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors." President Obama announced Tuesday that he and Michelle Obama will not be attending the 2014 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Russia this February. Instead, Obama will be sending delegates: tennis champion Billie Jean King and ice hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow, both of whom are openly gay.

Watch the "punk prayer" that got the Pussy Riot members locked in prison: