10 October 2012
First the good news: Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, one member of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot, was released from custody.
Now the bad news: Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, the other two members arrested in a February protest outside the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in February, are looking at two years in a penal colony for their so-called “hooliganism,” according to the Associated Press. 
We have written  previously about the religious implications of their arrest, but a new statement reported by the AP reminds us this is in no way about a secular government protecting the practice of religion. It is about the power of the Russian Orthodox Church over the Russian government.
The Russian Orthodox Church said the women would be released or treated with leniency “if the three women repented,” according to the AP article. 
For their part, even faced with years in a penal camp, the women said “they could not repent because they harbored no religious hatred and had committed no crime. Their protest, they said, was against Putin and the church hierarchy for openly supporting his rule,” according to the AP. 
Attorneys for the two remaining prisoners will appeal the decision to the European Court of Human Rights.