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Pussy Riot verdict due in Russia

  • A verdict in the trial of three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot is due later today.

    The three women have been charged with hooliganism after performing a protest song in Moscow's Christ the Saviour cathedral in February.

    Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, along with other members of their band, say their "punk prayer" was against the Russian Orthodox Church's support of President Vladimir Putin.

    Prosecutors have asked for them to be given three years in prison.

    Their performance, which pleaded with the Virgin Mary to "throw Putin out”, left the Orthodox Church furious with its leader, Patriarch Kirill, saying it amounted to blasphemy.

    Kirill is closely linked to the Kremlin, having backed Mr Putin's re-election as president this year.

    The women have attracted high-profile support from other artists including Paul McCartney, Bjork and Madonna.