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

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/cactusbones/7689466690/">Cactusbones</a>/Flickr

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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:

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We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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