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Arctic protesters included in Russian amnesty bill

The Russian parliament has voted to extend an amnesty bill to include hooliganism, the charge against the crew of 30 people detained on the Greenpeace protest ship.

Watch: Greenpeace activists held at gunpoint

The State Duma this morning adopted final amendments to the bill which would free thousands of Russians, mainly juveniles, veterans, pregnant women, and women with children.

The amnesty bill was extended to suspects of hooliganism. Credit: Press Association

The amnesty is extended to suspects of hooliganism, which means that charges against 30 people abroad the Greenpeace ship who were held after an oil rig protest in Russia's Arctic in September are likely to be dropped.

The bill is also expected to release Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, the jailed members of the Pussy Riot punk band who are serving two years on charges of hooliganism for an impromptu protest at Moscow's main cathedral.

Russian court to rule in Pussy Riot member case

A Russian court will today consider whether one of the jailed Pussy Riot band members is eligible for early release as she has served a half of her two-year sentence.

Pussy Riot band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova Credit: Reuters

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who has been in custody since her arrest last March, is serving the sentence for the band's irreverent protest against President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral.

Tolokonnikova and two other female members of the punk band were convicted last year of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for an anti-Putin performance at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral.

One of the women, Yekaterina Samutsevich, has had her sentence suspended on appeal.

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Judges reject Pussy Riot appeal against conviction

Moscow's highest court has rejected an appeal by three members of the punk band Pussy Riot against their hooliganism conviction after they staged a protest against Vladimir Putin.

The judges upheld the verdict against the band last week, but the decision was not published until today, the Associated Press reported.

Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich.
Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich. Credit: REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Pussy Riot performed a "punk prayer" in Moscow's Red Square asking the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin shortly before he was elected to a third term as president.

The court said this offended religious believers and disturbed the peace.

Band members Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were each handed two-year sentences in August last year.

Ms Samutsevich was released on appeal, but her conviction was not overturned.

Russian PM: Pussy Riot 'should not be in jail'

Punk band Pussy Riot were detained after this performance in Moscow's Red Square
Punk band Pussy Riot were detained after this performance in Moscow's Red Square Credit: Reuters/Denis Sinyakov

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he believes punk band Pussy Riot should not be in prison, after two members began two-year terms on hooliganism charges, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Mr Medvedev was quoted as saying, "I would not put them in jail if I was a judge. I simply don't consider it right that they serve prison sentences. They have already been in jail long enough".

Two members of Pussy Riot lose appeal

A Russian appeal court has upheld the two-year prison sentence given to two members of feminist trio Pussy riot by a court in August, and has freed a third member of the group.

 Yekaterina Samutsevich
Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich received a suspended sentence Credit: Reuters

A Moscow City Court judge said the court was leaving the sentences in place for Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina but issuing a suspended sentence for Yekaterina Samutsevich.

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Pussy Riot appeal prison sentence

Maria Alekhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in a glass cage in a court room in Moscow
Maria Alekhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in a glass cage in a court room in Moscow Credit: APTN

Three members of the punk band Pussy Riot are set to make their case before a Russian appeals court in Moscow today.

The feminist trio were convicted in August of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced to two years in prison for performing an anti-Putin protest song inside Moscow's third biggest cathedral.

The appeal is being heard at Moscow City Court
The appeal is being heard at Moscow City Court Credit: APTN

The verdict was condemned in the US and Europe, where it was seen as an illustration of Mr Putin's intolerance of dissent.

Mr Putin, however has since defended the ruling saying "it is impermissible to undermine our moral foundations, moral values, to try to destroy the country".

Pussy Riot appeal hearing delayed after defence lawyer 'fired'

The appeal hearing of Russia punk band Pussy Riot has been delayed after one of the trio jailed for staging an anti-Kremlin protest fired her lawyer.

The BBC's Steve Rosenberg reports that Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, rejected the services of her lawyer because of a "difference of opinion".

There is currently a break and the judges have left the courtroom.

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