Pussy Riot bandmember Maria Alyokhina, freed from a Russian prison last night under a Kremlin-backed amnesty, slammed the measure as a mere publicity stunt. She said she would have preferred to remain in the Nizhny Novgorod jail.
"I don't think it's an amnesty, it's a profanation," she told the Dozhd television channel, saying it only applied to a tiny minority of convicts. "I don't think the amnesty is a humanitarian act, I think it's a PR stunt. If I had a choice to refuse (the amnesty), I would" have done so.
Alyokhina, 25, and bandmate Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, whose two-year sentences for hooliganism in a Moscow church would have run out in early March, were granted amnesty last week after Parliament approved a Kremlin-backed bill.
Earlier yesterday, Mikhail Khodorkovsky appealed to Western governments to help him campaign for the release of other political prisoners still languishing in Russia's jails.
Speaking at his first major news conference since being freed from prison at the weekend, the ex-oligarch issued a direct challenge to American and European leaders, saying: "I hope they remember that I am not the last political prisoner in Russia."
He ruled out a career in formal opposition politics, saying that while he hoped to return to Russia in the near future, he had no wish to be "involved in the struggle for power" or "sponsor" the opposition.
Instead, he said he would dedicate his efforts to freeing political prisoners in both Russia and elsewhere, mentioning former Ukraine Prime Minister, Julia Tymoshenko.
- additional reporting AFP