June 22, 2012 15:56

Russian punk group Pussy Riot to stay in prison

Court extends jail time for anti-Putin protestors until July 24

Russian punk group Pussy Riot to stay in prison

Photo: PA

Anti-Putin feminist rockers Pussy Riot must remain imprisoned while police continue to investigate them for a "punk prayer" against Russian President Vladimir Putin, AP reports.

Three of the band's members — Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 — were arrested in February and face up to seven years in jail on hooliganism charges.

Their arrested followed an impromptu performance at Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral, where they sang a song called 'Holy Shit' as a protest against the Orthodox Christian's church alleged support for Putin. Although Putin regained power in the last Russian election, the verdict has been marred by accusations of fraud by his competitors.

This week a Russian court ruled that the band members will continue to be detained until July 24. Outside the court building, police detained about 20 people as dozens of the band's supporters whistled in unison, chanted anti-Kremlin slogans and clashed with activists from the Russian Orthadox church who called on the band members "to repent."

The church says the women deserve to be prosecuted for their "blasphemous" performance, although thousands of believers have signed a petition urging the church to forgive the band.

Shortly before their arrest, members of Pussy Riot spoke to NME, calling Putin's reaction to their church protest "childish". "We knew what the political situation was but now we're personally feeling the full force of Putin's Kafka-esque machine," they said. "The state's policy is based on a minimum of critical thinking and on a maximum of spite, and a desire to get even with those who don't please it."

Amnesty International have called for the release of band members, arguing that they were "prisoners of conscience" and accused the Russian government of punishing them for the "broader political context" of their actions, rather than the actions themselves.

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