According to Kremlin-run news agency Russia Today and other Russian media, Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina has been released from prison, just minutes ago. However, the circumstances are bizarre. Her lawyer confirmed the release, despite Alyokhina’s desire to stay in prison. According to Russian-language tweets from @gruppa_voina, Alyokhina was escorted out of jail via a Federal Penitentiary Service vehicle and her lawyer was unable to contact her or even to catch up with her en route. Alyokhina is on her way to an international airport train station, her lawyer tells Itar-Tass. We’re scanning social media for verification of where she’s actually going and will be bringing you updates.

UPDATES: A rep of @FreePussyRiot tells ANIMAL, “There is no way she is leaving Russia.” @gruppa_voina tweets that they just spoke with Maria on the one and she is “definitely free.” @Navalny points out the the circus of secret black Volga cars and the kidnapping look is idiotic. According to @mashavassilieva, Tolokonnikova will be released any minute. She is waiting for her outside the prison hospital. So are other journalists and more than 40 cameras.

Alyokhina spoke on Rain TV live, declaring that if she had any option not to accept Putin’s amnesty, she wouldn’t have. She had no choice. It is “not amnesty,” it is “profanation” and a PR stunt. This is one of first photographs of Maria “Masha” Alyokhina, following her release from prison. She is meeting with Committee Against Torture. She is meeting with the human rights group less than an hour of her reported release.

When Masha’s best friend (who has been waiting by the prison with Masha’s mom all weekend) called her, Masha told her that she was too busy to talk. Mission first, the rest later. Masha met with journalists after the Committee Against Torture, still in her prison uniform. She explains how she was she was escorted by guards into the black service Volga vehicle, straight out of her cell, without having a chance to say good-bye to her friends in prison. This is video of Masha being released. She says:

Now I am not afraid of anything anymore, believe me.

Last night, we reported that Masha did not want to be released for fear of what will happen to her fellow prisoners and attempted to reject the pardon. After her release, she immediately denounced the “amnesty” as a propagandist PR move. She says she had no choice in leaving the prison, but now that she’s out, she’s on a mission:

In that situation I was just a body that was moved. Nothing was up to me. If I had a chance to refuse the amnesty I would have done so… I will keep an eye on the situation in the Nizhny Novgorod prison. Women who spoke out against labor-law violations should be heard and their rights should not be violated anymore in any way. There should be no repressions against them from the prison management or other law enforcement agencies.

Masha also spoke with the New York Times:

I don’t consider this humane or merciful… This is a lie…. We didn’t ask for any pardon… I would have sat here until the end of my sentence because I don’t need mercy from Putin.

Nadia has also been released! She reunited with her husband. Nadia tells Interfax:

My release is only the beginning, because the line between freedom and imprisonment is very narrow in Russia, in an authoritarian government… I have encountered and experienced the government from the inside, and saw the totalitarian machine. It is very important to change the situation in the [penitentiary] colonies right now, and with this, change Russia. Penitentiary colonies and prison — that is the face of Russia… I am not afraid of anything.

Nadia is calling for a boycott of the Olympics:

Now, however, I am calling for a boycott, for honesty, I am calling for all of us not to sell ourselves for all this oil and gas that Russia can give.

She also says that she is working Masha to use their experience and dedicate themselves to a joint project — they will be fighting for the rights of prisoners. Speaking to the Guardian, Nadia denounced Putin for demonstratively releasing them before their sentence is up.

To release those people who do not need his mercy… It is a disgusting and cynical act.

There are many other imprisoned Russian activsits that did not make tabloid noise, like activist Taisiya Osipova who has been in prison since 2011. She has a young child, qualifies her for amnesty, and “remains locked up with no apparent chance of release.”

Masha is flying to meet Nadia in Krasnoyarsk in a few hours. She has just arrived in Moscow with and will be getting on a plane to Siberia. CONTINUED.

SEE PUSSY RIOT’S FIRST ACTION AFTER THE RELEASE.