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Russia Releases Member of Pussy Riot Under Amnesty Law

Photo by Roman Yarovitsyn/Kommersant Photo via Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Less than one week after Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Russian tycoon and political critic of President Vladimir Putin, was released from prison under a newly passed amnesty law, a jailed member of the punk rock protest group Pussy Riot was also released from Russian prison.

Maria Alyokhina, 25, and two other members of Pussy Riot had been serving a two-year sentence for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after they staged a "punk prayer," a profane musical protest against Putin in February 2012. One of the three had her sentence suspended in October 2012.

Alyokhina made headlines earlier this year when she went on a hunger strike. After she had been denied the right to attend her own parole hearing, RIA Novosti reported in May.

The third member of the punk rock group is also expected to be released under the amnesty in the near future

The BBC reported over the weekend that the amnesty law could also lead to the release of 20,000 prisoners, including Greenpeace activists.

Some experts believe that Putin's decision to pardon notable prisoners may be part of an attempt to minimize criticism ahead of February's Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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