(Reuters) - A member of punk band Pussy Riot was freed on appeal on Wednesday but a Moscow court upheld prison sentences for two others imposed over a raucous cathedral protest against Vladimir Putin, who said they had got the jail terms they deserved.
Yekaterina Samutsevich walked free from Moscow City Court after six months behind bars but the appeal judge who suspended her two-year sentence said fellow band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina should serve out their terms.
"I have mixed feelings," Samutsevich, 30, said outside the court, where she was greeted by applause and whistles from a crowd of about 150 people in the rain. "I'm happy, of course, but I am upset about the girls."
Her lawyer told the court that Samutsevich had not performed the 'punk protest' near the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral in February because she had been stopped and led away before it took place.
Samutsevich's father Stanislav said he would take his daughter away for a time to rest but that when she returned to Moscow "she will fight for the rest of the girls."
Defense lawyers, relatives of the women and rights activists including the chairman of Putin's own presidential human rights council, Mikhail Fedotov, criticized the split ruling.
"All three of those convicted in this case could certainly be given suspended sentences and that would be right," Fedotov said, according to Interfax news agency.
In emotional statements from a courtroom cage during the appeal hearing, women from the band said they had not meant to offend the faithful but criticized Putin, who foes say has cracked down on dissent since starting a new Kremlin term in May.
"We'll be going to a prison colony while civil war is brewing in this country. Putin is doing everything to make this happen." Tolokonnikova said, raising her voice to drown out a judge who interrupted when she mentioned the president's name. "He is setting people against each other."
Tolokonnikova, 22, Alyokhina, 24, and Samutsevich, 30, were convicted in August of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for a "punk prayer" imploring the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin, and sentenced to two years in jail.