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Russian court orders review of Pussy Riot band members' prison terms

Dec. 12, 2013 at 11:37 AM

MOSCOW, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Russia's Supreme Court ordered a review of prison terms for two members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, saying the lower court ignored mitigating factors.

The ruling Tuesday came three months before Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, and Maria Alyokhina, 25, are to be released from prison, RIA Novosti reported Thursday. The two were convicted in 2012 of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after an anti-government musical protest in Moscow's main cathedral.

The Supreme Court said prosecutors proved the women were motivated by religious hatred and enmity but never established the band acted out of hatred toward a social group. The high court also said the Moscow court ignored the women's age, that they have young children and the non-violent nature of the crime.

In May, the Moscow City Court rejected an appeal by Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, who were sentenced in August 2012 along with Pussy Riot band mate Yekaterina Samutsevich for staging a "punk prayer" in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral. Samutsevich was released from prison in October 2012 after an appeals court commuted her sentence to a suspended one.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina may be eligible for release under a proposed government amnesty currently under consideration by the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament.

Under the amnesty proposal, prisoners serving sentences of up to five years for non-violent crimes who have not previously served jail time are eligible for release.

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