Earlier today, a Moscow City Court freed Pussy Riot punk band member Yekaterina Samutsevich on appeal. The two remaining imprisoned band members, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, are still required to serve their two-year sentences.

In a case that has shed international light on the Russian government’s intolerance of dissent, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, and Marina Alyokhina, 24, have been in jail since March, when they were arrested after performing (video) a “punk prayer” on the altar of Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in dissent of Vladimir Putin. The members entered the church wearing bright colors and balaclavas, singing “Mother of God, Blessed Virgin, drive out Putin!” The band members said their intent was to challenge the Church’s political support for Putin and to show their dissatisfaction with Putin’s 12-year political dominance. Samutsevich’s lawyer argued to the court that she was not a participant in the protest staged in February. Grounds for her appeal were based on Samutsevich’s removal from the scene by officials before the start of the group’s protest.

Following the news of Samutsevich’s release, Mark Feigin, a defense lawyer said “we’re glad that Yekaterina Samutsevich has been freed, but we think the other two girls should also be released”. Additionally, in a statement released on Wednesday, Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA,said, “The persecution of Pussy Riot has become a global symbol of President Putin’s shameless intolerance for criticism and determined crackdown on freedom of expression and association.”

Musicians and human rights groups around the world have been standing in solidarity with the radical feminist band both online and in the streets. Amnesty International has named the women prisoners of conscience, and artists like Sting, Peter Gabriel, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are speaking out in support. Tolokonnikova, Samutsevich, and Alyokhina were found guilty of “hooliganism” in August. Since then, Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev has announced support of their release.

Media Resources: Reuters 10/10/12; Feminist Newswire 09/14/12; You Tube 07/29/12; BBC News 10/10/12; Washington Post 10/10/12; Amnesty International; Feminist Newswire 8/17/12

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