The adjourned appeal hearing for three activists from the Russian punk band Pussy Riot has started in Moscow.
In August, the trio were jailed for two years for staging an anti-Kremlin protest in Moscow’s main cathedral, Christ the Saviour.
The appeal was adjourned last week because one of the defendants said she wanted time to replace her lawyer.
Yekaterina Samutsevich told the judge she had a difference of opinion with her original counsel.
The 30-year-old and fellow band members Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, were found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” in August.
Their imprisonment sparked condemnation in many parts of the world.
The band performed an obscenity-laced song in front of the altar of Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral on 21 February.
The adjourned appeal hearing for three activists from the Russian punk band Pussy Riot has started in Moscow
The “punk prayer” – which implored the Virgin Mary to “throw out” President Vladimir Putin and sought, the band said, to highlight the Russian Orthodox Church leader’s support for the president – enraged the Church.
But while the Church hierarchy said the women’s action “cannot be left unpunished”, it added that any penitence shown should be taken into consideration.
Those comments followed a suggestion from Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that a suspended sentence would have been sufficient punishment.
But the women’s lawyers have said their clients would not repent if it meant admitting guilt.
They have said they doubt the appeal will be successful, with analysts suggesting that while the band members’ sentences might be reduced, they were unlikely to be overturned.
Russian police are searching for other members of the punk band Pussy Riot who took part in the anti-Putin protest in Moscow’s main cathedral.
The search is separate from the trial that led to three band members being jailed for two years – a verdict that drew an international outcry.
Investigators have not named the new suspects, nor said how many are being sought.
Police have also questioned ex-chess champion Garry Kasparov for allegedly biting a policeman’s hand at a protest.
Garry Kasparov denied the allegation and accused the police of having detained him unjustly and hit him. He was arrested with several other opposition activists outside the Moscow court before the Pussy Riot trio were sentenced on Friday.
Russian police are searching for other members of the punk band Pussy Riot who took part in the anti-Putin protest in Moscow's main cathedral
The women – Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 – were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.
Along with other members of their band, they staged a flashmob-style performance of a protest song near the altar of Christ the Saviour cathedral on 21 February.
Reports say two other band members participated. But last week seven unidentified Pussy Riot members in balaclavas met Western journalists and said the trial had only made them more determined.
The three sentenced on Friday said they did not know the other band members’ names, because they had an anonymity rule and just used nicknames for each other.
The British actor and comedian Stephen Fry has published a two-page open letter of support for Pussy Riot, joining other global celebrities in deploring the Russian authorities’ handling of the case.
Stephen Fry condemned the “monstrous injustice and preposterous tyranny” in the case, calling the women’s two-year prison sentence “astoundingly unfair and disproportionate”.
“Putin hasn’t made a monster of himself. He has made a fool of himself. It is often said that had the world laughed at Hitler early enough he would never have taken the hold on power he did.
“I do not call Putin a Hitler. Yet. But it is time to laugh him out of this stance and you out of incarceration,” Stephen Fry wrote.
In Helsinki on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned against overreacting, saying the judicial process had not yet been exhausted.
“There is still the possibility of filing an appeal and the lawyers for the young girls plan to do so,” he said, quoted by AFP news agency.
“Let’s not draw any rash conclusions and go off into hysterics,” Sergei Lavrov said.
Mariya Alekhina, one of the three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot, on trial for an anti-Putin protest at Moscow’s main cathedral, has been given medical treatment in court, a lawyer says.
Medics were called when the women said they felt unwell on the third day of the trial on Wednesday, the court said.
The defendants say they are being deprived of sleep and are poorly fed, according to a defense lawyer.
They deny hooliganism charges in the case, which has divided Russia.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Mariya Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were taken into custody in February after performing a protest song against President Vladimir Putin at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral.
The song outraged the Russian Orthodox Church, which accused them of blasphemy. Supporters say the case reflects the state’s growing intolerance of government opponents.
Mariya Alekhina, one of the three members of Pussy Riot, on trial for an anti-Putin protest at Moscow's main cathedral, has been given medical treatment in court
The first prosecution witness called on Wednesday testified that he was not in the cathedral during the performance and had only seen it on video.
Proceedings were interrupted for several hours to allow Mariya Alekhina to be given treatment after a fall in her blood sugar levels, defense lawyer Nikolay Polozov told Russian media. He added that Mariya Alekhina was a vegan and needed a special diet.
Later on Wednesday, there was a further interruption when Mariya Alekhina again repeatedly complained about feeling poorly, according to media reports.
Nikolay Polozov told the Interfax news agency that the defendants have been subjected to a punishing regime since the start of their trial.
“For a third day running, the girls have been woken at 5:00 a.m., held in a 1sq m [11 sq ft] unventilated room, after which they are taken to court,” he said.
“They are not fed, and court sessions last up to 12 hours, during which they are only given 20-30 minutes for a small snack of dry rations. They are then taken back to remand after midnight. They are also denied an evening meal and can only sleep for small number of hours.”
The women are facing the charge of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility and could face up to seven years in prison.
At the start of their trial on Monday, the three pleaded not guilty, but apologized for the offence their performance had caused.
The case has divided Russia, with many feeling the women are being made an example of as part of attempts to clamp down on the opposition.