Nightly News   |  December 23, 2013

Imprisoned Pussy Riot members freed

Members of Pussy Riot are released from a Russian prison, but that hasn’t dulled their criticism of Vladimir Putin. In fact, they say the release was just a political stunt. NBC’s Jim Maceda reports.

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>>> 50 days out until the winter olympics and tonight the host nation of russia is continuing a well- timed release of high profile prisoners. in this case, two young women . it is vladimir putin 's attempt to tamp down a few pr problems before the games begin. so far, it seems to be having the opposite effect, as our own jim maceda reports from siberia tonight.

>> reporter: they left prison today as global celebrities. maria alyokin and nadia tolokonnikova both members of pussy riot. part punk band convicted of hooliganism last year after this anti- putin performance in moscow's largest cathedral. still defiant and contemptuous of putin 's limited party. this is a hoax and a pr move, she said. if i had a chance to turn it down, i would have. in an exclusive interview with nbc news, nadezha said an extended hunger strike and prison hospitalization had drained her spirit.

>> in fact it's the opposite. my determination in terms of being engaged in politics and fighting the authoritarian government has only increased.

>> reporter: she said her activism now had a new focus.

>> translator: now i'm not just an artist but a politician and i feel it's my responsibility to get involved in human rights .

>> reporter: she and maria now say they'll work together on behalf of the dozens of political prisoners still in russian jails. like the celebrities who spoke out for them when they were in jail. including paul mccartney , bono, and madonna. putin also released longtime critic mikhail khodorkovsky , a former oil tycoon, after a decade in jail. now in berlin, he says, he, too, will work tirelessly to free political prisoners in russia . vladimir putin may have hoped his amnesty would improve russia 's image before the sochi winter olympics but tonight nadia called for a boycott of the games to protest human rights abuses . a thorn in