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The two remaining jailed members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot have been released from prison under an amnesty initiated by President Vladimir Putin.

The group had been found guilty of hooliganism for a protest in a church, performing a “punk prayer” in a cathedral against Putin’s ties to the Russian Orthodox Church.

The two women, Maria Alyokhina and Nadia Tolokonnikova, were due to be released in March, but qualified for Putin’s amnesty because they are both mothers of small children. The third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, had her sentence suspended earlier this year. Tolokonnikova was reported to have shouted “Russia without Putin” as she walked away a free woman.

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Putin has said that the amnesty, passed to mark the 20th anniversary of Russia’s post-Soviet constitution, was not drafted with Pussy Riot in mind.

Tolokonnikova’s father Andrei told Reuters on Thursday that the planned release of the band members was clearly a public relations move ahead of the Olympics saying “It is an absolutely cynical game of the central authorities”.

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