Pussy Riot, the three-piece Russian punk band who were arrested for performing a "punk prayer" in the largest Russian Orthodox church in Moscow, could be facing three years in prison as prosecution got under way today (August 7th). Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 caused controversy in Russia when they turned up to the Christ the Saviour church and sang a song urging the Virgin Mary to kick Vladimir Putin out of the kremlin earlier in the year.
Their incarceration has been seen by many as part of Putin's attempts to crack down on dissent against the leaders of the country, and the punk trio's plight has been supported by the music world at large. The Bbc reports that the prosecution could've asked for a maximum seven years punishment, for a crime deemed as inciting religious hatred. The band, for their part, have said that their song was a political act, not meant to hurt feelings. They further attempted to justify their performance by saying it was a reaction to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, publicly backing Mr Putin in elections.
The prosecution argued that "Using swear words in a church is an abuse of God." They also said that the women had "set themselves up against the Orthodox Christian world" and that, given the "severity" of the crime, the "requisite punishment must be a real deprivation of freedom".