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Yekaterina Samutsevich gives her closing statement at the Moscow trial. (screen capture from online broadcast, via YouTube)

Yekaterina Samutsevich, the oldest member of the Russian art-punk band Pussy Riot, was released from prison today, though the other two younger members remain behind bars.

The Guardian reports that Samutsevich walked free after serving just six months in a pre-trial detention center, while the other two members, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, will be sent on to a Russian prison colony to serve out the remainder of their two-year sentences.

Samutsevich has been freed because her lawyer argued that she did not fully take part in the anti-Putin “Punk Prayer” performance at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow that initially caused the band’s arrest. She had been ejected from the church before the stunt started, and therefore did not participate in any offensive action. In the video of the performance, seen below, it appears that at least five women are up on stage.

Alyokhina denies that any of the band’s actions were purposefully offensive. She said in a final court statement, “I want again and for the last time, because we probably won’t get another chance, to talk about our motives. Dear believers, we did not want to offend you.”

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly, Kill Screen, Creators Project,...