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PostPosted: Sun Dec 22, 2013 7:13 pm 
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To Russia With Love: Mother sends Elton John, George Michael and Tom Daley dolls to Russian government for Christmas
12 December 2013
by Angela Haggerty

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The matryoshkas include a large purple Elton John (far left) Stephen Fry, George Michael, Graham Norton, and the smallest doll, Tom Daley (far right).

Mother London has launched a Christmas campaign with a difference in response to increasing concern at the Russian government’s stance on homosexuality.

As an act of solidarity with Russia’s gay community, which is facing heightening discrimination and persecution, Mother has created a set of dolls with five well-known gay icons: Elton John, George Michael, Stephen Fry, Graham Norton and Tom Daley.

As well as sending off a set to both the Russian Embassy in London and the Kremlin, Mother is auctioning dolls online at a dedicated website between 13-22 December and raising money for The Kaleidoscope Trust, a charity working to uphold LGBT rights internationally.

Mother said: “The Russian LGBT community is facing increasingly harsh treatment at the hands of authorities and attacks on gay people are rising. So, this Christmas, Mother is sending something To Russia With Love.” Paddy Fraser, Mother Creative, added: "No one else was going to do this, so we felt we had to take action. Christmas is about helping those in need, and we wanted to stand shoulder to shoulder with the gay community in Russia, many of whom will be living in fear this season. We hope people bid on Elton and the boys to raise cash for Kaleidoscope and their work in Russia."

Russia passed an anti-gay propaganda law earlier this year and there are serious worries over the diminishing rights of LGBT people in the country.

Source: The Drum.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 4:54 am 
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Almost one in two pensioners in Italy can't make ends meet
13 December 2013

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Italian pensioners protest at government cuts

Rome (ANSA) - Almost one in two Italian pensioners have trouble making ends meet each month, new data showed Friday.

At least 46.2% of retirees are forced to put off paying their bills, dip into their savings, or ask family and friends for loans by the end of the month, according to a survey by the Italian Pensioners Union (SPI) and Ipsos research company. Another 24.3% are just able to make their income stretch to the end of the month, spending every penny of their pension, and 29.5% have no financial trouble and are able to save.

The survey also showed that 19.8% of pensioners have cut back "a lot" on buying necessities, 28.4% cut their spending "somewhat", 31.4% said they gave up on extras, and 20.4% of respondents have not cut their spending in any significant way.

Pensioners are also key in supporting children or grandchildren who have been laid off or can't find work, with 42.6% supporting their relatives financially, the study showed.

Source: ANSA.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 6:32 am 
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Cypriots protest against bailout austerity measures
December 14, 2013

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AFP/Patrick Baz - Cypriot left-wing party supporters march in the capital Nicosia, on December 14, 2013, as they protest againt the the privatisation of state utilities and government economic policy

Hundreds of Cypriots protested on Saturday against harsh austerity measures imposed since the eurozone country agreed a tough bailout agreement in March.

Demonstrators from mainly leftwing unions, students and others gathered outside the finance ministry and marched on the presidential palace to voice their anger at a steep fall in the standard of living. Many Cypriots are also disgruntled over record unemployment of around 17 percent that is expected to rise to 20 percent next year, a planned sell-off of state-run utilities and the prospect of homes being repossessed by banks.

Under the terms of the bailout agreed with the troika of international lenders, Cyprus has endured tough austerity measures aimed at getting it its debt-ridden economy back on track. The 10-billion-euro bailout deal also included the closure of the island's second largest bank Laiki and a 47.5 percent "haircut" on deposits above 100,000 euros at the main lender, the Bank of Cyprus.

Employees in the private and public sector have seen their salaries and pensions slashed while taxes have increased and more than 40,000 Cypriots now rely on food parcels. The 2014 budget expected to be approved next week provides for a further 10 percent cut in public spending compared with 2013. Protesters shouted slogans against the troika and sell-off of state utilities, while banners read: "No to austerity: we have a right to work."

Since the bailout was agreed there have been few large-scale protests or strikes, but as austerity begins to bite Cypriots are becoming more agitated.

Source: Yahoo! AFP.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 7:08 am 
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Indian gay activists protest top court's ruling
15 December 2013

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Indian gay rights activists hold placards during a protest against a Supreme Court verdict that upheld section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalizes homosexuality in Hyderabad, India, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.)

NEW DELHI (AP) -- Hundreds of gay rights activists gathered in India's capital and other cities across the country on Sunday to protest a decision by India's top court to uphold a law that criminalizes gay sex.

India's Supreme Court last week reversed a landmark 2009 lower court order that had decriminalized gay sex. The country's gay community is demanding that the government take immediate action to remove the colonial-era law banning same-sex relations.

About 800 protesters in New Delhi, the capital, wore black arm bands Sunday and waved rainbow-colored flags and banners. Some people wore masks and wigs to protect their identity. They said the Supreme Court's ruling had evoked anger and dismay across the country. The activists said that they were in the process of taking legal steps to undo the court's decision and that Sunday's protest was to make their voices heard. "It's my fundamental right to decide who I should love," said Rohan Mehta, a New Delhi-based businessman who was among the demonstrators. "I will not let the court deprive me of my rights."

The court ruled Wednesday that only lawmakers could change the law that bans gay sex and makes it punishable by up to a decade in prison. The ruling dealt a blow to gay activists who have fought for years for the chance to live openly in India's deeply conservative society. Similar protests were organized Sunday in several Indian cities, with groups of gay and human rights activists urging a rollback of the court's decision.

Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 3:13 pm 
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Amazon workers in Germany on strike over wages
16 December 2013

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BERLIN (AP) -- Hundreds of workers at Amazon.com in Germany have walked off the job in an effort to put pressure on the American online retailer in the busy days before Christmas to settle on a new wage agreement.

The ver.di union said Monday that several hundred workers were staging one-day warning strikes at Amazon logistics centers in Leipzig, Bad Hersfeld and Graben. Ver.di says German workers will also picket with American colleagues outside the Amazon headquarters in Seattle to press their demands.

The union says Amazon workers receive lower wages than others in retail and mail-order jobs. Amazon says its distribution warehouses in Germany are logistics centers and employees are already paid on the upper end of what workers in that industry earn.

Amazon has about 9,000 fulltime employees in Germany.

Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 7:03 pm 
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Vice President of the European Commission to boycott Sochi Winter Olympics
16th December 2013
by Joseph Patrick McCormick

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Viviane Reding said she would not attend Sochi

The Vice President of the European Commission has announced that she is to boycott the Sochi Winter Olympics 2014, because of recently introduced anti-gay laws in Russia.

Viviane Reding, who is responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, tweeted on Monday to say that she would “certainly not go to Sochi as long as minorities are treated the way they are under the current Russian Legislation.”

The tweet came a day before the International Day of Human Rights, and on the launch of the Uprising for Love campaign, which was created to support human rights in Russia.

There have already been calls for a boycott of the Sochi Winter Olympics, which is to take place in February, since Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors in June.

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, commented: “I welcome Ms Reding’s clear stance, which sends the right signal to Russian authorities.”

“I’m glad the Commissioner stands in solidarity with minorities in Russia.”

Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, continued: “I welcome Ms Reding’s principled stand, even if her support for LGBT issues inside the EU has been rather tame during her mandate.”

“In Parliament we are particularly missing her commitment on an LGBT roadmap, which would ensure a better life for LGBT people. But I welcome her principled stand.”

Source: PinkNews.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 8:22 pm 
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Macedonian prostitutes march against discrimination
December 17, 2013

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Macedonian prostitutes march against discrimination AFP

Skopje (AFP) - Prostitutes and other sex workers in Macedonia marched on Tuesday along the central streets of Skopje in a rare public protest, demanding decriminalisation of their profession and more rights.

Carrying red umbrellas, a symbol of the global fight for sex workers' rights, about 100 prostitutes and human rights activists marched in silence to call for "respect of rights and better conditions" for prostitutes in the Balkan country.

"We appeal for sex workers' rights to be respected and their work conditions improved," said Borce Bozinov of the Star-Star non-governmental group which organised the protest.

No incidents were reported during the march, the first of its kind in Macedonia, a small landlocked nation of 2.2 million. Prostitution is illegal in this highly traditional and conservative society and sex workers say they are often exposed to violence and hate crimes that go unpunished. One of the marchers who refused to reveal her name, said she has suffered "physical, verbal and sexual violence daily, but I cannot report it."

The marchers called for new laws to decriminalise prostitution and enable health and social security for sex workers to be introduced. But the attempt to legalise prostitution in early 2000s failed as the parliament rejected a draft bill proposing such measures.

Source: Yahoo! AFP.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2013 8:49 am 
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Obama selection of Billie Jean King for Sochi 'genius'
by Christine Brennan
December 17, 2013

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Billie Jean King - Photo: Michael Loccisano

President Obama's selection of Billie Jean King for the official U.S. delegation to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games is a stroke of genius.

What better way to show the nation's disgust for President Vladimir Putin's anti-gay propaganda law than for Obama to send an American cultural icon and sports legend who also happens to be openly gay? King, 70, the winner of 12 Grand Slam singles titles during her Hall of Fame tennis career, never was an Olympian, but she has been watching Putin's discriminatory law from afar.

In a recent conversation with USA TODAY Sports' Kelly Whiteside, King talked about the general hesitancy U.S. athletes expressed regarding the law. "Sometimes I think we need a John Carlos moment," she said on Sept. 25, referring to the U.S. track star who was expelled from the 1968 Mexico City Olympics along with American sprinter Tommie Smith for protesting racial discrimination. "I think there's watershed moments, benchmarks. I would hope the majority of the athletes would speak out. It's a great platform." Then she sighed. "I wish I was 21 again and in the Olympics."

Now she is, just in a different way. Think of the millions of Russian citizens who are gay, or have a gay family member or friend, living in a nation where discrimination based on sexual orientation is not only tolerated, but promoted. And the U.S. president sends one of the world's most recognizable faces of equality and inclusion to attend the Opening Ceremony in such a visible role? It's the perfect call for an extraordinary international situation.

This is not only a blatant message directed right at Putin, it's also a strong signal to all Russians who are subject to that terrible law, the people who will be allowed to protest only in specified zones during the Games, but not at all before or after. These are the people who will remain behind in the midst of abject discrimination once the Olympics end and the spotlight they bring disappears.

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Russia's President Vladimir Putin holds a torch during a ceremony to mark the start of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic torch relay across Russia on Oct. 6, 2013. (Photo: Alexei Nikolsky, AFP/Getty Images)

In a statement on Tuesday, King said, "I am equally proud to stand with the members of the LGBT community in support of all athletes who will be competing in Sochi and I hope these Olympic Games will indeed be a watershed moment for the universal acceptance of all people."

In addition to sending King to represent the United States in Sochi, Obama made sure not to send any top U.S. political leaders. For the first time in at least 20 years, no U.S. president, vice president, one of their wives or a current cabinet secretary will be in a U.S. Olympic delegation. The highest-ranking official will be former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, while 1988 Olympic figure skating gold medalist Brian Boitano also will be part of the group -- what just might be the most significant delegation the United States has ever sent to an Olympic Games.

Source: USA Today.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:03 pm 
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Olympic rules for protesting against Russia's anti-gay laws clarified
by Owen Gibson
Wednesday, 18 December 2013

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Activists holding placards depicting the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, protest against Russia's new anti-gay laws in London. Photograph: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has made it clear to nations competing in February's Winter Games in Sochi that athletes will be free to speak out against Russia's controversial anti-gay laws, as long as they do so away from accredited areas.

The British Olympic Association (BOA) said it had received a letter from the IOC clarifying its rule 50, which says "no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted". The IOC has been under pressure to clarify its position since Russia introduced the new laws, which prohibit the "promotion" of homosexuality to under 18s, earlier this year.

This prompted calls for a boycott of the Games from some, including the actor Stephen Fry, and led others to condemn the new laws. The BOA, which expects to send up to 55 athletes to the Winter Olympics, said it had received a letter from the IOC this week, after last week's executive committee meeting, clarifying the rules.

The IOC has also said that Sochi organisers will provide "protest zones", as in Beijing, where demonstrations would be permitted. Human rights groups are concerned not only about the anti-gay laws but a wider chilling effect on freedom of speech under Vladimir Putin. The BOA said it would not stand in the way of any athletes who wanted to speak out on gay rights or any other issue, as long as they comply with the Olympic charter.

"It's about finding a balance across three priorities: the requirement we comply with the Olympic charter, that we understand the laws of the country we're visiting, even if we don't agree with them, and recognising that we believe an Olympic team should reflect the values of the country they represent," said a spokesman. "In our case that means a commitment to freedom of expression. You won't find us taking a strong stance against any athlete exercising their right to freedom of speech."

This week the US President, Barack Obama, named former tennis player Billie Jean-King as one of two openly gay ambassadors to represent the US at the opening and closing ceremonies, in what was widely seen as a direct challenge to Putin's new laws. The British government has said that the sports minister Helen Grant, who is also equalities minister, will attend on its behalf. The Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, is also expected to attend. Thomas Bach, the new IOC president, said when he was elected in September that the organisation would have to take a realistic approach to the overlap between sport and politics.

IOC insiders confirmed that athletes would be free to speak openly in non-accredited areas and at press conferences, insisting that the policy had not changed from previous Games. However, the fact that it has emphasised the point before the Sochi Olympics, the most expensive winter Games in history at $50bn, is seen as significant.

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 31, 2013 2:04 pm 
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Lithuania leader to skip Sochi in Russia protest
19 December 2013

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Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) -- Lithuania's president says she won't attend the Sochi Olympics because of Russia's human rights record and its "attitude" toward neighboring countries, including Lithuania.

Russia halted all dairy imports from Lithuania earlier this year, citing food safety standards. Lithuania said the move was retaliation for its efforts to get Ukraine to sign a partnership agreement with the European Union, which Russia opposes.

In a webcast news conference from Brussels on Thursday, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said she saw "no political possibility" to visit the Sochi Games because of Russia's "human rights violations as well as the attitude toward Eastern partners and economic sanctions against Lithuania."

The presidents of the U.S., France and Germany have also decided not to attend the Olympics in February.

Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 31, 2013 2:35 pm 
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Nude Activists Get Married, Arrested At San Francisco City Hall
December 19, 2013

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Nude activist Gypsy Taub is arrested by San Francisco police officers as he protests San Francisco's new ban on nudity at San Francisco City Hall on February 1, 2013 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Two nude activists got married in front of San Francisco City Hall on Thursday and were promptly arrested and issued a citation.

Gypsy Taub and her groom, Jaymz Smith, stripped down for the naked wedding. “I want to get married, and, why not get naked for it,” Smith said before the nuptials. Taub has become well-known at City Hall for her nude activism, having already been arrested several times for violating the city law against public nudity.

She said she didn’t expect to be treated any differently on the day of her nuptials. “When I get naked and I’m not hurting anyone, I’m more vulnerable being naked than in any other state,” Taub said. “All of a sudden, 24 police officers show up and treat me as if I just murdered somebody.”

She began the wedding in a dress, but by the end of the ceremony, only had her bridal veil on. Taub and Smith were arrested following the ceremony for violating the public nudity law, but have since been released.

Source: CBS.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 11:56 am 
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The price of corn plunged 40 percent in 2013 as it became clear that the U.S. crop would be huge, bouncing back from a severe drought the year before. The price of wheat also fell 23 percent for the year.

AND DID YOU SEE BREAD AND PASTA PRICES GO DOWN????????????

:fry pan: :soapbox: :x :x :x

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 2:58 pm 
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WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH !!!

THE BASTARDS!!!


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 9:16 pm 
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Greek farmers clash with police over property tax
20 December 2013

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Farmers gather during a rally outside Greece's parliament in Athens on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. Farmers from the island of Crete clashed with police as lawmakers prepared to vote on a new property tax that will extend the levy to include farms. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Farmers from the Greek island of Crete clashed with police Friday outside Greece's parliament in Athens as lawmakers debated a bill that will expand an unpopular property tax to farms and previously untaxed properties.

Hundreds of farmers took an overnight ferry to protest in the capital and were joined by farmers from the southern mainland. They hurled oranges at riot police and battered their shields with traditional shepherds' walking sticks.

The new tax, due to be voted upon Saturday, is part of measures required by international creditors under Greece's bailout agreements. The debt-ridden nation has been kept afloat since 2010 by the bailout funds. "We only have one demand: Not to tax our farms, because this is what we need to operate our business, the same way factories have machinery," said protest organizer Panagiotis Peveretos, who met lawmakers to discuss the protesters' grievances. "They told us they understand our position but cannot bring down the government over this," he said.

Greece's conservative-led coalition government, which holds 154 seats in the 300-member parliament, struggled with dissent from lawmakers, mostly representing rural constituencies before submitting the bill. One prominent conservative indicated he would vote against it. "How more weight can be put on the backs of the people?" lawmaker Vyron Polydoras said in parliament. "This is a heavy and unbearable tax."

Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2014 9:04 pm 
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Amnestied Russian punk band pair criticize Putin after release
By Maria Vasilyeva and Nikolai Isayev
December 23, 2013

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Maria Alyokhina (R) of Russian punk protest band Pussy Riot arrives at Moscow's Kazansky railway station December 23, 2013. REUTERS-Sergei Karpukhin

(Reuters) - Two members of Russian punk protest band Pussy Riot freed from prison on Monday derided President Vladimir Putin's amnesty that led to their early release as a propaganda stunt and promised to fight for human rights.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, shouted "Russia without Putin" following her release from a Siberian prison, hours after band mate Maria Alyokhina, 25, was freed from jail in the Volga River city of Nizhny Novgorod.

The women had two months left to serve but walked free days after a pardon from Putin freed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky eight months before the end of his more than 10-year jail term, decisions widely seen as intended to improve Russia's image before it hosts the Winter Olympics in February. "It is a disgusting and cynical act," Tolokonnikova, looking relaxed in a black coat and chequered shirt, told Reuters at her grandmother's apartment building in the snowbound Siberian city of Kransoyarsk where she was jailed.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were sentenced to two years in prison for a profanity-laced protest against Putin in a Russian Orthodox church in 2012 after a trial Kremlin critics said was part of a clampdown on dissent in his third presidential term.

The case caused an outcry in the West, but there was much less sympathy for the women at home than abroad. They had been due for release in early March. Putin, who denies jailing people for political reasons, has said the amnesty would show that the Russian state is humane. The measure, however, does not benefit opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is barred from elections for years by a five-year suspended sentence on a theft charge he says was Kremlin revenge for his activism. Putin, in power since 2000, has not ruled out seeking another six-year term in 2018.

Alyokhina echoed critics who said the amnesty was far too narrow and not an act of mercy but a political ply by Putin. "I do not think it is a humanitarian act, I think it is a PR stunt," she said in comments to the Russian Internet and TV channel Dozhd. "My attitude to the president has not changed." Tolokonnikova, who staged a hunger strike earlier this year and drew attention to stark conditions and long hours of mandatory labor in the jail where she was previously held, said she would fight for prisoners' rights. "Everything is just starting, so fasten your seat belts," she said, suggesting Pussy Riot - jailed for a "punk prayer" in the main cathedral of Russia's dominant faith - would continue to use attention-grabbing protests to make their point. "We will unite our efforts in our human rights activity," Alyokhina said in Nizhny Novgorod. "We will try to sing our the song to the end."

"I'M NOT AFRAID"

Bundled in a thick green prison jacket and with her long curly hair loose, Alyokhina said she would have rejected the amnesty if that been a option. She said she wants to focus on fighting for the rights of those still behind bars. "I'm not afraid of anything anymore, believe me," she said.

A pro-Kremlin lawmaker said he thought the amnesty and pardon would help to remove irritants in ties with the West. "Political grievances against Russia will shrink somewhat," Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the international affairs committee in Russia's parliament, said. But Putin has said the amnesty was not drafted with the Greenpeace activists or Pussy Riot in mind. In an annual news conference last week, he described Pussy Riot's protest as disgraceful, saying it "went beyond all boundaries".

Rights activists have estimated the amnesty will free fewer than 1,500 of the 564,000 convicts in Russian prisons. Another 114,000 people are in pre-trial detention, the government says. A third Pussy Riot member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was freed last year when a judge suspended her sentence on appeal.

(Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Writing by Steve Gutterman and Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Alistair Lyon)
Source: Reuters.

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