In Russia, a court has freed one of three jailed members of the punk protest group Pussy Riot, but upheld prison sentences for the other two. In a case that has drawn international attention, the women were found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after performing a “punk prayer” inside a cathedral, exhorting the Virgin Mary to get rid of Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Yekaterina Samutsevich was released Wednesday after her lawyers argued she played less of a role in the protest because she was ejected from the cathedral before she could remove her guitar from its case. At a court hearing, jailed Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina apologized to church members offended by the action, saying the intended target had been Putin and Russian elites.
Maria Alyokhina: “Dear believers, we did not want to insult you. We never had such intentions. We went to the cathedral to voice our protest, our desperate protest against the merging of the religious elites and the political elites of our country.”
The two Pussy Riot members who remain behind bars will be jailed for another two years.