The members of the band went to the altar of Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral on Feb. 21, wearing balaclava ski masks, and sang a song against Putin. At their trial last summer, they were accused of inciting religious hatred.
The case has been portrayed as evidence of a crackdown by Putin on the more spirited members of the opposition that began taking to the streets in open protest in December 2011.
At the same time, parliament has passed bills that significantly increase the prison terms for organizing illegal protests and that have made it much more difficult for civil society organizations to operate here. New bills would greatly expand the definition of treason and make it easier to imprison people on charges of inciting religious hatred.
The released woman, Yekaterina Samutsevich, had replaced her lawyers before a previously scheduled hearing. Her supporters were quick to point out Wednesday that the attorneys who originally represented her - Violetta Volkova, Nikolai Polozov and Mark Feigin - are particularly disliked by Putin. Samutsevich's father suggested that she was being rewarded for making the change; other allies saw an effort by the Kremlin to drive a wedge among members of the group and other activists as well.
Band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, both of whom have small children, kept the original defense team and now must serve their sentences.
The court decision releasing Samutsevich pointed out that she had not had time to join the others at the altar before security guards hustled them all out of the cathedral, and she therefore deserved less blame.
At Wednesday's hearing, all three women argued that their protest was strictly political and not motivated by religious hatred.
"It is as clear as noon that our performance at the Christ the Savior Cathedral was political rather than anti-religious. I have no religious hatred, and none of us had it in our performance," Tolokonnikova said. She said she felt repentance but not remorse.
Samutsevich apologized for hurting believers' feelings.
"If we unintentionally offended any believers with our actions, we express our apologies," she said.