Pussy Riot Asks to Serve Remaining Prison Time as Community Service

Lawyers of the convicted Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina have drafted petitions to substitute the remainder of their two-year prison terms with lighter punishments.

The group's lawyer Irina Khrunova will send the petitions to local courts in Mordovia and the Perm region, where Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are serving their respective sentences, Kommersant reported.

The petitions pointed out that the women, who were sent to penal colonies for a "punk prayer" performance at the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow, were convicted of non-violent crimes and both have small children.

Tolokonnikova is set to be released on March 3, 2014, while Alyokhina's sentence expires the next day.

According to Khrunova, the law allows community service work to be substituted for the remainder of their prison term.

Earlier, Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov, art gallery owner Marat Gelman and the head of the Give Life charity foundation, Chulpan Khamatova, each said they were prepared to employ Alyoknina and Tolokonnikova if they are released on parole.

Legal experts and rights activists expressed doubt that authorities would change the remaining sentence to community service. Even though the law allows it, the provision is rarely used in practice.