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Russia amnesty bill that could free Pussy Riot members passes first hurdle

The Russian parliament has given preliminary approval to an amnesty that could pardon jailed members of the punk band Pussy Riot.

In the first of three votes, Parliament voted unanimously on Tuesday in favor of the bill, which gives amnesty to minors, invalids, veterans, pregnant women, and women with children. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, the Pussy Riot members serving two years in prison on charges of hooliganism for an irreverent 2012 anti-government protest at Moscow's main cathedral, both have young children.

A group of MPs is planning to offer amendments to extend the amnesty to people awaiting trial, including Greenpeace group which staged a protest at an Arctic oil platform.