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Pussy Riot members jailed for two years

  • Three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been sentenced to two years in prison for staging a protest against President Vladimir Putin at a Moscow cathedral.

    Judge Marina Syrova convicted Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

    The band members say their protest was directed at Putin’s close ties with the Russian Orthodox Church.

    On February 21, Pussy Riot stormed into Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral to perform their “punk prayer” close to the alter.

    Their brief performance called on the Virgin Mary to "throw Putin out" leading the Church’s leader Patriarch Kirill to label it as blasphemy.

    Alyokhina, Tolokonnikova and Samutsevich watched Friday's proceedings from inside a glass-walled cage in the courtroom and were seen giggling as the unsurprising conviction was announced.

    The United States and the European Union have condemned the sentence as disproportionate, although prosecutors were seeking a three-year jail sentence.

    The women have also garnered support from celebrities such as Madonna, Sting and Paul McCartney.