Anti-Putin rock group goes on trial over 'punk prayer'
A Moscow court yesterday launched the trial of three feminist rockers who face seven years in prison for performing a "punk prayer" against Vladimir Putin from the pulpit of Russia's largest cathedral.
The case of the band Pussy Riot has deeply divided Russia, pitting advocates of openness against the forces of order and the powerful Russian Orthodox Church. The three had been held in jail for more than four months without a single court hearing.
The February stunt, two weeks before the presidential election, was designed to offend. Five members of Pussy Riot -- wearing balaclavas and miniskirts -- briefly took over the pulpit at Christ The Savior Cathedral, chanting "Mother Mary, drive Putin away" and high-kicking cancan-style.
Prosecutors yesterday asked that the women be held in custody for at least six more months. Defence attorneys have repeatedly asked for them to be released.