Three members of a feminist punk band are being harshly punished for mocking Vladimir Putin in a protest inside Russia's main Orthodox church. The trio were among five members of Pussy Riot who rushed to the pulpit during a service earlier this year, and chanted: "Mother Mary, drive Putin away." They have been in prison since March, and face up to seven years in prison if convicted of hooliganism. Opposition leaders have called their detention excessive, but yesterday, a court denied them bail and extended custody until the end of June, AP reports.
The trio are all in their 20s and two of them have young children. Their imprisonment has sparked angry criticism of the Russian Orthodox Church—which insists that they should be prosecuted for their "blasphemous" conduct—and some 30 protesters were arrested outside yesterday's hearing. "The leaders of Western countries should stand up and condemn this," author Dmitry Bykov, who attended the hearing, told the Telegraph. "In the Brezhnev era dissidents always knew they had support abroad. Now you are sitting by as three young women are effectively tortured." (Read more Russia stories.)