Pussy Riot case: Russia to reassess guilty verdicts

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in cell in Mordovia penal colony, 25 Sep 13
Image caption Tolokonnikova is shown here in an isolation cell in September

Russia's Supreme Court has criticised the guilty verdicts handed down to the two jailed Pussy Riot punk protesters and has ordered a review.

The announcement came just three months before Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are due to be released from prison. They were jailed in 2012.

The verdict did not include proof that they were motivated by hatred towards a social group, the Supreme Court said.

The court also ignored their status as mothers with young children, it said.

The pair are serving their sentences in separate penal colonies a long way east of Moscow.

In August 2012 they were found guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for performing an anti-Kremlin protest song in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

A third protester, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was given the same jail term but was released on appeal in October last year. Her sentence was suspended because she had not performed the protest song with the others, which condemned President Vladimir Putin. Their song implored the Virgin Mary to "throw Putin out".

On Monday Mr Putin submitted an amnesty bill to parliament which could, according to Russian media, lead to the release of the Pussy Riot women and the 30 Greenpeace environmental protesters currently on bail in Russia.

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