Jailed members of Pussy Riot are expected be freed months ahead of when their prison terms are due to end. Russian lawmakers on Wednesday approved an amnesty law that would clear an immediate path of freedom for Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti reports that the amnesty bill, floated in early December to mark the 20th anniversary of the nation's constitution, "will be applied to thousands of Russian prisoners -- primarily retirees, invalids, women with children and pregnant women, and victims of the Chernobyl disaster."

Ria Novosti notes that Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina each have young children and would, therefore, qualify for amnesty.

PHOTOS: Pussy Riot sentenced to 2 year prison sentence

Early reports out of Europe suggested the two members of Pussy Riot could be freed as early as Thursday, as British outlet the Guardian quotes prison officials who said the inmates could walk as soon as the bill was passed. 

Tolokonnikova, 24, and two band mates were sentenced in August 2012 to two years each behind bars for hooliganism after engaging in what they called a punk prayer at a cathedral in downtown Moscow in the middle of the February 2012 presidential campaign. The band members' song begged the Virgin Mary to get rid of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who later won the election.

Both Tolokonnikova and band member Alyokhina were initially expected to be freed in March. Alyokhina is serving her term in a colony in the Nizhny Novgorod region in central Russia.

After writing an open letter Sept. 23 charging human rights violations at the prison colony in Mordovia, a region in central Russia, Tolokonnikova was transferred several weeks later to a previously undisclosed location. Tolokonnikova spoke of working in sewing shops for 17 hours a day and seeing fellow inmates require amputation after suffering drastic frostbite.

Russian officials eventually revealed she was in a prison hospital near Krasnoyarsk in central Siberia.

The sentence of a third band member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was suspended after the court ruled she was not directly involved in the  church incident.

Prior reporting from Russian correspondent Sergei L. Loiko was used in this post. Look for more on the case and amnesty bill to be posted on World Now

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