Russian President Grants Amnesty to Jailed Punk Band, Oil Tycoon

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Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on an amnesty package that frees two members of the jailed punk band, Pussy Riot as well as Oil Tycoon, Mikail Khodorkovsky and members of Greenpeace.

Putin, who is known for his hard line anti-government speech stance, began the amnesty consideration process as the worlds focus turned to the upcoming Winter Olympic Games held in Sochi, Russia, a city in Krasnodar Krai, near the Black Sea coast.

Most notable in the releases included two members of the jailed Punk band, Pussy Riot, who received international attention for their sentencing after appearing hooded, in a music video filmed in a Moscow church and were pictured reciting inflammatory lyrics and defacing property.

Two members of the band, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, receiving amnesty under Putin’s order, served 21months in prison for hooliganism. They were arrested and held without bail, a third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was arrested and served seven months. The two other members involved left Russia fearing prosecution.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former owner of Yukos Oil Company, known then as one of the richest men in Russia, has served a decade of his 14 year sentence.

Held in a Siberian prison, Khodorkovsky was jailed for white collar crimes, including embezzlement, fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.

The former Forbes list billionaire also had a falling out with President Putin as he continued to tighten his grip on private ownership of business.  Many attempts to spotlight the violations of due process and human rights had been lobbied on behalf of the jailed tycoon.

Putin announced that a clemency letter for sent to him from Khodorkovsky and he acted on it. This report has been denied by Khodorkovsky’s lawyers and family members.

Putin also pardoned a 30 member crew of the international earth consciousness group Greenpeace arrested in September for boarding an Arctic oil ship. Charged with hooliganism, they were initially held without bail, in stark conditions for two months and released on house arrest. The group has not been permitted to leave Russia.

The amnesty deal will avoid a trial which could have resulted in a lengthy in not a life sentence.  

Greenpeace has vowed to return to continue their protests against Russia over oil drilling in the Arctic.

The amnesty deal for all could move as quickly as days or hours.

 

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