With her fighting spirit intact, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, of Russian punk protest band Pussy Riot, was defiant as she emerged from jail early, on Monday, under a mass amnesty.
President Vladimir Putin said the move would show the Russian state is humane. Tolokonnikova believes it is a propaganda stunt before the winter games in Sochi.
“They are just putting on another show ahead of the Olympics,” the 24-year-old told reporters outside the Siberian prison.
“Such is their big desire to prevent all European countries from boycotting our Russian Olympics. But let us remember all those people who are not talked about and are even forgotten but who still need to come out of jail as they don’t belong there.”
Hours earlier, fellow band member Maria Alyokhina, 25, was also freed from jail in the Volga River city of Nizhny Novgorod.
The pair were serving two years for hooliganism over their self-styled anti-Putin punk prayer performed in Moscow’s main cathedral.
Alyokhina confirmed her intention to pursue non-governmental and human rights work within an organisational structure. She stressed, however, that “the methods which we will use remain the same”.
Pussy Riot’s imprisonment caused an outcry in the West, but there was less sympathy at home, with mixed views in Moscow.
“If they did not serve out their sentence till the end, then it is just a blasphemy,” said Tatyana, a teacher. “I am a proud Russian and think it is wrong.”
But another woman, Olga, said: “Of course it is right that they were released…They should not have been jailed in the first place.”
President Putin, who denies imprisoning people for political reasons, has not ruled out seeking another six-year term in 2018.