Pussy Riot members released from prison following amnesty
KRASNOYARSK, Russia (AP) — The last two imprisoned members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot walked free yesterday, criticizing the amnesty measure that released them as a publicity stunt, with one calling for a boycott of the Winter Olympics to protest Russia’s human rights record.
Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were granted amnesty last week in a move largely viewed as the Kremlin’s attempt to soothe criticism of Russia’s human rights record before the Sochi Games in February.
“I’m calling for a boycott of the Olympic Games,” Tolokonnikova said. “What is happening today — releasing people just a few months before their term expires — is a cosmetic measure.”
The amnesty — part of a wide measure passed last week by the parliament — and President Vladimir Putin’s pardoning last week of onetime oil tycoon and political rival Mikhail Khodorkovsky freed some of the most prominent convicts who were sentenced in politically-tainted cases.
But it also gives them new freedom to launch criticism of Putin’s Russia amid intense attention from international news media.
3,000 foreigners in violent South Sudan city evacuated
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — British, Canadian and Kenyan citizens are among 3,000 foreigners trapped in a South Sudan city experiencing bouts of heavy machine gun fire, one of the most violent areas of a weeklong conflict that has likely killed more than 1,000 people, a top U.N. official said Monday.
Australians, Ugandans and Ethiopians are also among 17,000 people seeking protection at a U.N. base in Bor, a city that could see increased violence in coming days, said Toby Lanzer, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator.
The death toll from a week of violence in South Sudan has likely surpassed 1,000 people, though there are no firm numbers available, he said. The number of internal refugees is probably more than 100,000, said Lanzer, who is seeking urgent financial assistance from the U.S., Britain and other European countries.