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Pussy Riot

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Rain doused Glastonbury Festival’s first day as fans enjoyed music on the main stages.

A heavy shower on Friday afternoon brought out the wellies, ponchos and umbrellas and created puddles on site.

Friday’s acts include Florence and the Machine, Motorhead, Mark Ronson and an unconfirmed band, rumored to be The Libertines, on the Pyramid Stage.

Physicist Stephen Hawking is unlikely to attend the event for an appearance in the Kidz Field.

A spokesperson for Prof. Stephen Hawking told The Telegraph he had pulled out “for personal reasons”.Glastonbury 2015 rain and mud

Feminist punk band Pussy Riot made an appearance in front of the Park Stage, using a theatrical protest to convey their anti-government message.

The appearance began with an actor posing as a Russian soldier standing atop a military van and declaring Glastonbury a pro-Russian republic.

Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who were imprisoned in Russia for almost two years for their protests, then climbed up, tied him up and put one of their trademark multi-colored balaclavas on him.

Nadia Tolokonnikova told the crowd to “develop a culture of rebellion” and, in a remark possibly aimed at other bands, said they could not just “sit on a comfy coach and drink some beer”.

They were then interviewed on top of the van by singer Charlotte Church, who described them as “one of the most important movements this century”.

A total of 177,000 people are due on site. The weather is expected to brighten up later, with Saturday expected to be sunny but more rain likely on Sunday.


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Former Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonnikova and another activist were arrested in Moscow on June 12 after staging a brief street performance to support women prisoners.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Katya Nenasheva were posing dressed as prisoners while attempting to sew a Russian flag before being dragged away.

Both were released after three hours.

Nadya Tolokonnikova spent 21 months in jail after a Pussy Riot protest against Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral.

The human rights campaigner staged her new protest on Russia’s national day.

Photo Facebook

Photo Facebook

While under arrest on June 12, Nadya Tolokonnikova posted messages on Facebook saying she wanted to draw attention to the struggles of female prisoners, both while incarcerated and once released.

Russian media reports said Nadya Tolokonnikova and Katya Nenasheva had been detained for holding an “unsanctioned rally” in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square – the site of mass anti-government protests that began in 2011.

Since being released last year, Nadya Tolokonnikova has focused on campaigning around the world against President Vladimir Putin.

She was jailed along with fellow Pussy Riot members, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, in August 2012 after being convicted of hooliganism.

They were among five members of the activist group to stage a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s biggest cathedral.

The act was seen as blasphemous by many Russians, and was condemned by the Orthodox Church.

Yekaterina Samutsevich was freed on probation in October 2012, but Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina remained in jail until their release in December 2013.

In February 2014, members of Pussy Riot signed an open letter insisting that Maria Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova should no longer be described as part of the punk rock collective.

Pussy Riot said the pair had forgotten about the “aspirations and ideals of our group” and were wrong to appear at an Amnesty International concert in New York.

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Pussy Riot has been confirmed to appear at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, after the event revealed its full 2015 line-up.

The Russian punk band will appear in conversation twice during the festival, on the Park Stage on Saturday, June 27, and the Left Field on Friday, June 26.

Burt Bacharach, The Proclaimers, The Cribs and Wilko Johnson have also been added to the bill.

They join Pyramid Stage headliners Foo Fighters, Kanye West and The Who.

Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were released from a Russian prison last year after 21 months, having been convicted of hooliganism over protests in Moscow.Pussy Riot Glastonbury 2015

They were among five members of the radical group to stage a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s biggest cathedral.

Singer-songwriter and activist Billy Bragg, who hosts Glastonbury’s Left Field, tweeted: “Pleased to announce that Nadya and Masha from Pussy Riot will be speaking at Left Field @GlastoFest 1.30pm Friday.”

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina recently appeared as themselves in hit Netflix political series House of Cards, where they staged a protest against fictional Russian president, the Putin-esque Viktor Petrov, at a dinner party.

Glastonbury organizers revealed set times for all of the stages, including a mammoth slot for Friday night headliners Foo Fighters.

They will play the Pyramid Stage from 21:15-23:45 BST – an hour longer than Kanye West is scheduled to perform for the following night and 30 minutes longer than Sunday night headliners The Who.

Surprise additions included a favorite of organizer Emily Eavis who tweeted: “And very excited about Burt Bacharach!”

Burt Bacharach will play the Pyramid Stage, as will the Burtle Silver Band and ballet group the Michael Clark Company.

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Pussy Riot’s former members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are suing the Russian government over their imprisonment for a protest in a Moscow cathedral.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova say their prosecutions amounted to torture.

They have filed a case at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against Russia, seeking compensation.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are demanding 120,000 euros each in damages, plus 10,000 euros court costs.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikov’s father, Andrey, said the pair should have asked for greater compensation.

“What can I say? Good girls! But, in my opinion, the requested amount is too small,” he said.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are suing the Russian government over their imprisonment for a protest in a Moscow cathedral

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are suing the Russian government over their imprisonment for a protest in a Moscow cathedral

“They should have requested 250 million euros, not 250,000 euros,” he told the popular Russian newspaper Moskovskiy Komsomolets.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were among five Pussy Riot members who donned balaclavas in February 2012 and tried to perform their song Mother of God, Drive Putin Out, in the Christ the Savior Cathedral, near the Kremlin.

The performance was interrupted by staff at the cathedral and they were arrested along with a third member of the group.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were sentenced to two years in prison each after being convicted of hooliganism.

They both served 21 months in prison and pre-trial detention.

Their story was covered widely, and they were viewed sympathetically in western countries.

Their actions were seen as blasphemous by many Russians, and were condemned by the Orthodox Church.

The two Pussy Riot members opened their action at the ECHR in June 2012, while their own cases in Russia were still ongoing.

They argued that their detention and trial had violated European Convention of Human Rights articles which prohibit torture and guarantee freedom of expression, security and liberty, and a fair trial. Russia is a signatory to the convention.

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Russian Deputy PM Dmitry Kozak has dismissed the Sochi attack on protest group Pussy Riot.

Five members of punk group Pussy Riot and a cameraman were attacked by Cossack security patrols as they performed under a sign advertising the Winter Olympics on Wednesday.

Footage showed the Cossacks whipping band members, pulling off their ski masks, and throwing them to the ground.

“The girls came here specifically to provoke this conflict,” Dmitry Kozak said.

“They had been searching for it for some time and finally they had this conflict with local inhabitants.”

Security in Sochi was a major concern before the Olympic Games following two suicide bomb attacks in Volgograd, in which 34 people died.

But Dmitry Kozak said he had always had confidence in security staff ensuring the Games remained safe.

Five members of punk group Pussy Riot and a cameraman were attacked by Cossack security patrols in Sochi

Five members of punk group Pussy Riot and a cameraman were attacked by Cossack security patrols in Sochi

The security procedures included hiring Cossack patrols to help police during the Olympics.

“We were certain that our security forces would be able to complete the tasks given to them,” he said.

“Security threats today are of a global nature, with terrorist organizations, so of course we were concerned about that.

“The Olympic Games became a target for the terrorists, but our law enforcement agencies and our special forces, in co-operation with all the countries of the world, all the special services in the world, including Great Britain, joined in the effort to prevent terrorism. All of us have fulfilled this task brilliantly.”

Dmitry Kozak also dismissed allegations of corruption and embezzlement in relation to money spent on the Games, which are estimated to have cost $50 billion.

“We had tough control over the budget money,” he said.

“According to the results of the investigation we did not find any major incidents of corruption.

“We ask anyone who says that there is to provide specific fact of the corruption. If they do we will carry out investigations and, if proved, the culprits will be punished. But so far we do not have this information, so it is just speculation.”

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Russian punk rock band  Pussy Riot have signed an open letter insisting Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova not be billed as members.

The letter said Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova had forgotten about the “aspirations and ideals of our group”.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova performed alongside Madonna at a concert in New York on Wednesday.

They were jailed for two years after singing a protest song in a Moscow cathedral in 2012 but were freed in December.

Known as “Masha” and “Nadia”, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova spent 16 months in prison.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova performed alongside Madonna at a concert in New York

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova performed alongside Madonna at a concert in New York

The six members of the collective who signed the letter – Garadja, Fara, Shaiba, Cat, Seraphima and Schumacher – say they wish to remain anonymous.

They said that their group belonged to a “leftist anti-capitalist ideology” but that the pair had become “institutionalized advocates of prisoners’ rights”.

The letter read: “Unfortunately for us, they are being so carried away with the problems in Russian prisons, that they completely forgot about the aspirations and ideals of our group – feminism, separatist resistance, fight against authoritarianism and personality cult, all of which, as a matter of fact, was the cause for their unjust punishment.”

The remaining members of the group criticized Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova for appearing at the Amnesty International concert in New York.

“Our performances are always <<illegal>>, staged only in unpredictable locations and public places not designed for traditional entertainment,” the group said.

The group said that although Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova had repeatedly stressed they were no longer members, the public announcement before their speech spoke of “the first legal performance of Pussy Riot”.

The letter did praise the former members for their new cause.

“Yes, we lost two friends, two ideological fellow member (sic), but the world has acquired two brave, interesting, controversial human rights defenders – fighters for the rights of the Russian prisoners.”

However, it added: “Unfortunately, we cannot congratulate them with this in person, because they refuse to have any contact with us.”

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Madonna has decided to introduce two members of Russian protest punk rock act Pussy Riot at a concert promoting human rights at the Barclays Center in New York City.

Madonna said she was “honored” to introduce “my fellow freedom fighters” Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova at the Amnesty event.

“I have admired their courage and have long supported their commitment and the sacrifices they have made,” the singer added.

Madonna will introduce two members of Pussy Riot at a concert promoting human rights at the Barclays Center

Madonna will introduce two members of Pussy Riot at a concert promoting human rights at the Barclays Center

Maria (Masha) Alyokhina and Nadezhda (Nadya) Tolokonnikova were released in December after spending 16 months in prison.

They and Yekaterina Samutsevich were arrested in August 2012 for singing a protest song in a Moscow cathedral.

Amnesty International announced last week that “Masha” and “Nadya” would make an appearance at the concert on February 5.

It will form part of their first trip to New York since being granted amnesty by Russian President Vladimir Putin – a gesture the pair dismissed as a publicity stunt.

Lauryn Hill, Bob Geldof, Yoko Ono and Imagine Dragons are also on the bill of the Bringing Human Rights Home event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

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Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will appear at a concert promoting human rights in New York City, its organizer has said.

Amnesty International says Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will appear at a February 5 concert in New York’s Brooklyn borough.

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova spent 16 months in prison after their arrest in August 2012 for singing a protest song in a Moscow cathedral.

Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will appear at a concert promoting human rights in New York City

Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova will appear at a concert promoting human rights in New York City

They were freed last month in what they derided as a publicity stunt.

“A month ago, we were freed from Russian prison camps,” Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said in a joint statement.

“We will never forget what it’s like to be in prison after a political conviction. We have vowed to continue helping those who remain behind bars.”

It is not clear whether they will perform at the concert at the Barclay’s Center, which will feature The Flaming Lips, Imagine Dragons, Lauryn Hill and Tegan and Sara, among others, according to promotional material released by Amnesty International.

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Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has called for foreign countries to boycott February’s Sochi Winter Olympics, hours after she was freed from jail.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova dismissed the amnesty law that set her free, saying it was a “cosmetic measure”.

She and band-mate Maria Alyokhina, who was also freed, said the prison system needed wider reform and promised to continue anti-government action.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Ayokhina were jailed in 2012 after singing a protest song in a Moscow cathedral.

The act was seen as blasphemous by many Russians, and was condemned by the Orthodox Church.

But their conviction for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” was criticized by rights groups, anti-government activists and foreign politicians.

The amnesty passed last week aimed to free some 20,000 prisoners.

Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has called for foreign countries to boycott February's Sochi Winter Olympics

Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has called for foreign countries to boycott February’s Sochi Winter Olympics

Both Pussy Riot members said their anti-government stance had not softened, and both promised to form a human-rights group to fight for prison reform.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who was freed from a prison hospital in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, immediately called for a boycott of the Sochi Games.

“What is happening today – releasing people just a few months before their term expires – is a cosmetic measure,” she said.

“That includes the case of Khodorkovsky, who didn’t have much time left on his prison term. This is ridiculous.”

She said far more people should be set free.

“I’m calling for a boycott, for honesty. I’m calling [on Western governments] not to give in because of oil and gas deliveries from Russia.”

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, labeled the Russian state a “totalitarian machine” and said prison reform was the starting point for reform of Russian society.

Maria Alyokhina, released in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, 280 miles east of Moscow, told Russian TV that the amnesty was “a profanation”.

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Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been released from Russian prison under an amnesty law, hours after her fellow band member Maria Alyokhina was freed.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina dismissed the amnesty as a publicity stunt before the Sochi Winter Olympics in February.

They both promised to continue their vocal opposition to the government.

Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been released from Russian prison under an amnesty law

Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been released from Russian prison under an amnesty law

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were jailed in August 2012 after performing a protest song in Moscow’s main cathedral.

The act was seen as blasphemous by many Russians, and was condemned by the Orthodox Church.

Their conviction for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” was criticized by rights groups, anti-Putin activists and foreign governments.

The amnesty passed last week aimed to free some 20,000 prisoners.

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Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina has been freed early from prison in Russia under an amnesty, her lawyer announces.

Her lawyers said Maria Alyokhina was now on her way to Moscow.

The release of fellow band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is also expected later today.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were jailed in August 2012 for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” after performing a protest song in Moscow’s main cathedral.

The conviction of the women was criticized by rights groups, anti-Putin activists and foreign governments.

Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina has been freed early from prison in Russia under an amnesty

Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina has been freed early from prison in Russia under an amnesty

Their sentences were due to end in March 2014, but they have known since last week that their release was imminent under an amnesty agreed by the Russian parliament.

On Friday Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky – once Russia’s richest man – was also pardoned and freed after more than 10 years in prison for fraud and tax evasion.

The amnesty deal, unanimously approved by the State Duma in Moscow last week, covers at least 20,000 prisoners, including minors, invalids, veterans, pregnant women, and mothers.

Charges against 30 protesters, mostly foreign nationals, who were arrested on a Greenpeace ship may also be dropped later this week.

The move is being widely seen as attempt to avoid controversy overshadowing the Winter Olympics in February, due to be hosted in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Maria Alyokhina was released from the prison camp in Nizhny Novgorod, east of Moscow, early on Monday morning. She reportedly told waiting journalists that she felt well, before being driven away.

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Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been found in a prison hospital in western Siberia, her husband announced.

Pyotr Verzilov has spoken to his wife for the first time since she went missing 26 days ago.

He said she was undergoing tests for “various conditions” at the Tuberculosis Hospital No 1 in Krasnoyarsk.

But he added that she does not have tuberculosis.

Pyotr Verzilov said his wife had told him that conditions at the hospital were much better than at the penal colony in Mordovia, where she had been held previously, and that she had not been beaten during the 26 days she was missing.

Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been found in a prison hospital in western Siberia

Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been found in a prison hospital in western Siberia

Russian prison authorities issued a statement confirming that “convict Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has arrived to the institution of the Russian prison service in the Krasnoyarsk region”.

A spokesman said her exact location had been sent to her lawyer, who had instructions not to tell anyone else.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and two other Pussy Riot band members were sentenced to two years in jail last year, after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral. In the song they implored the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out”.

They were charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

One member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on appeal in October.

After her appeal attempt failed, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova went on hunger strike. She had complained of abuses by prison staff at Mordovia, including working long hours and being denied drinking water in her prison cell. She was moved to a medical unit and her whereabouts were unknown since October.

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Nadezhda Tolokonnikova – one of the jailed members of Russian protest band Pussy Riot – has vanished from sight since she was moved to a new prison 10 days ago.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova’s husband told a US news website he had not received any news about her and her current location was being kept secret.

She had been on hunger strike at a penal colony in Mordovia.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and another band member were jailed over a protest in a Moscow cathedral.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has vanished from sight since she was moved to a new prison 10 days ago

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has vanished from sight since she was moved to a new prison 10 days ago

They were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment after performing a crude protest song in February 2012. A third band member was released on appeal.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has complained of abuses by the prison staff in Mordovia.

Her husband said he last knew her precise whereabouts on October 21, when guards put her on a train en route to a different prison.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was seen on October 24 by a fellow passenger as the train arrived in the city of Chelyabinsk, in the Ural mountains.

Her husband, Pyotr Verzilov, told the Buzzfeed website he believed the decision to move his wife came from the authorities in Moscow: “They want to cut her off from the outside world.”

Pyotr Verzilov said Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was still weak after two hunger strikes, and accused the authorities of trying to punish her because of her protests.

Pussy Riot’s act was regarded as blasphemous by many Russians, but their prosecution caused an international outcry.

Mordovia, some 275 miles east of Moscow, has labor camps dating back to the notorious Gulag system set up by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

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Pussy Riot band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been moved from prison to a medical unit at the penal colony where she is on hunger strike.

The news about Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was reported on Twitter by her husband, Pyotr Verzilov.

“Nadya is now in hospital, but they’re refusing to provide documents about that, or to meet the defence [team]. A blockade has begun,” he said.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has complained of abuses by the prison staff in Mordovia.

Her lawyer Dmitry Dinze, quoted by Russian media, said she was very weak, with low blood pressure and low blood sugar. She began a hunger strike on Monday.

Dmitry Dinze was also quoted as saying the administrators of penal labor colony No 14, where she is serving a two-year sentence, had been summoned to Moscow. It is not yet clear what the Moscow consultation is about.

After she went on hunger strike, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was moved to an isolation cell for her own safety, the prison authorities said.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been moved from prison to a medical unit at the penal colony where she is on hunger strike

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova has been moved from prison to a medical unit at the penal colony where she is on hunger strike

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and another band member, Maria Alyokhina, were jailed after performing a crude protest song in a Moscow cathedral. A third band member was released on appeal.

Their act was regarded as blasphemous by many Russians, but their prosecution caused an international outcry.

Mordovia, some 275 miles east of Moscow, has labor camps dating back to the notorious Gulag system set up by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Requests by Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina for parole were rejected. Nadezhd Tolokonnikova’s release date is expected to be March 3rd, 2014.

On Thursday Nadezhda Tolokonnikova alleged that she had been left without drinking water in her cell and that a guard had grabbed her arms and shoulders. She described it as the first use of physical force against her, and urged the authorities to transfer her to a different prison.

The prison service denied her account, saying her water bottles had been replaced with warm water on doctors’ advice and physical force had not been used against her.

In a letter released to media this week, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said she had complained that she faced threats from other inmates, and also about long hours of forced labor.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said female inmates were treated like “slaves”, working 17 hours a day sewing police uniforms.

If they failed to meet their quotas they were punished by being denied food, prevented from using the bathroom or made to stand outside in the cold, she wrote.

The prison service denied those allegations, saying women worked no more than eight hours a day.

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A Moscow court has freed Yekaterina Samutsevich, one of the convicted women from the punk band Pussy Riot, but upheld two-year jail terms for the other two.

There were cheers in court when the two-year jail term of Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, was suspended.

Earlier the trio spoke defiantly at the appeal hearing, saying their protest song was political and not anti-Church.

In August they were jailed for staging an anti-Kremlin protest in Moscow’s main cathedral, Christ the Saviour.

Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, were found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”.

Their imprisonment sparked widespread international condemnation.

The judges on Wednesday accepted the argument of Yekaterina Samutsevich’s lawyer – that she had been thrown out of the cathedral by guards before she could remove her guitar from its case for the band’s “punk prayer”.

The other band members cheered and hugged Yekaterina Samutsevich when the decision was read out.

The two-year jail term of Yekaterina Samutsevich was suspended

The two-year jail term of Yekaterina Samutsevich was suspended

One of the defence lawyers, Mark Feigin, said “we’re glad that Yekaterina Samutsevich has been freed, but we think the other two girls should also be released”. The appeal process would continue, he said.

Yekaterina Samutsevich’s father reacted with the words: “What happiness! But what a shame about the other girls – they don’t deserve such a harsh punishment.”

Earlier Maria Alyokhina told the hearing: “We’re all innocent… the verdict should be overturned. The Russian justice system looks discredited.”

Maria Alyokhina said that “of course we didn’t want to offend worshippers” when they protested at the cathedral’s altar.

She said the trio’s apologies had been ignored, but repentance was out of the question.

“For us to repent – that’s unacceptable, it’s a kind of blackmail,” she said, adding that repentance was a personal matter, unconnected with a legal case.

She added she had “lost hope in this trial”.

The three women sat in a glass cage in court, facing a three-judge panel.

The band performed an obscenity-laced song at the Moscow cathedral on 21 February.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova told the court “it’s as clear as daylight that this was a political act, not anti-religious… I ask you to quash this sentence”.

Maria Alyokhina warned that if they were sent to a penal colony for two years “we won’t stay silent – even in Mordovia, or Siberia – however uncomfortable that is for you”.

Their “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 Vladimir Putin last week defended the sentence, speaking on Russian NTV television.

“It’s right that they were arrested, it’s right that the court took that decision, because you can’t undermine the foundations of morality, our moral values, destroy the country. What would we be left with then?” Vladimir Putin said.

Opinion polls in Russia suggest a majority backing the sentence against Pussy Riot. One poll found 43% of respondents considered the sentence too lenient.

On Wednesday the judge rejected two motions from defence lawyers to call in experts for their opinions and more witnesses from the cathedral. The defendants’ plea to hold a fresh psychological and linguistic evaluation of their protest song was also rejected.

 

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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 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.

 

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A Russian court in Moscow has begun hearing an appeal by three activists from punk band Pussy Riot.

In August, three members of Pussy Riot were jailed for two years for staging an anti-Kremlin protest in Moscow’s main cathedral, Christ the Saviour.

The Russian Orthodox Church said on Sunday that clemency should be possible for the trio as long as they repented what they called their “punk prayer”.

But their lawyers have said that they doubt the appeal will be successful.

The three band members – Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30 – were found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” in August.

Their imprisonment sparked condemnation in many parts of the world.

The Pussy Riot members were all present in the Moscow court on Monday, in a glass-fronted defendants’ cage.

Yekaterina Samutsevich argued with the judge, complaining that her request for a different defence lawyer had not been met. The hearing was then adjourned temporarily.

Their obscenity-laced performance on 21 February, which implored the Virgin Mary to “throw out” President Vladimir Putin and sought, they said, to highlight the Russian Orthodox Church leader’s support for the president, enraged the Church.

But, in a statement, the Church said that though the women’s action “cannot be left unpunished”, if they showed penitence and reconsideration of their action their words “shouldn’t be left unnoticed”.

“The Church sincerely wishes for the repentance of those who desecrated a holy place, certainly it would benefit their souls,” senior Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida said.

The Church’s comments follow a suggestion from Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev last month that a suspended sentence would have been sufficient punishment for the women.

Their lawyers have said that their clients will not repent if it means admitting guilt.

“If they [the Church] mean repentance in the sense of a crime … it definitely won’t happen. Our clients won’t admit guilt. A call for that is pointless,” lawyer Mark Feigin told independent TV channel Dozhd on Sunday.

The father of one of the jailed women said that whether they repent or not, the trio has little hope of their sentences being quashed.

“The sentence is predetermined; their repentance will not affect it in any way,” Stanislav Samutsevich told Reuters.

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Hopes of an early jail release for the Pussy Riot punk protesters dimmed last night after Russian president Vladimir Putin launched a scathing attack on the three women singers.

The three Pussy Riot members are to appeal their two years prison sentences for staging a cathedral stunt opposing the strongman leader.

Supporters of the women – who have called for a revolution against Vladimir Putin – fear his hardline stance will sway judges and rule out their punishments being reduced.

“First they went to the Yelokhovsky Cathedral and conducted an orgy there and then they went to the other cathedral and had another orgy,” Vladimir Putin said in a major TV interview.

“The state is obliged to protect the feelings of the faithful.”

Vladimir Putin dashes hopes for Pussy Riot release as he says faithful must be defended after two Cathedral orgies

Vladimir Putin dashes hopes for Pussy Riot release as he says faithful must be defended after two Cathedral orgies

The women were found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” for dancing and singing in Christ the Saviour Cathedral.

He also chided the police for taking no action when one of the three – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22 – was involved in a sexually explicit protest four years ago in a biological museum.

“They had a group sex session in a public place. They then uploaded it onto the Internet. The authorities should have looked at this too,” he stressed.

Recalled a Soviet-era joke, he said: “Some fans say that group sex is better than one-on-one because – like in any collective work – you can take it easy a bit.”

But he stressed: “Uploading it onto the Internet is controversial and can be subject to legal proceedings.”

Vladimir Putin asked his interviewer if he knew what the band’s name meant.

“There is no need to pretend that you don’t know. It’s indecent,” he said.

He claimed the repression suffered by the church in Soviet times meant it had to be respected now.

But he denied behind the scenes pressure to send the women to jail, despite suspicions of this among the opposition and in the West.

“I know what is going on with Pussy Riot, but I am staying out of it completely,” he said.

Vladimir Putin also denied he was clamping down on protest, declaring: “What is <<tightening the screws>>? If this means the demand that everyone, including representatives of the opposition, obey the law, then yes, this demand will be consistently implemented.”

He also blasted Britain for “double standards” in the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, alleging political interference in the attempt to extradite him to Sweden for sexual offences.

Julian Assange is holed up in the Ecuador embassy and has been granted political asylum by the South American country.

“They decided to extradite him. What is this? Of course it is double standards, that is clear,” he told Russia Today television.

“As far as I know, Ecuador asked Sweden for guarantees that Assange will not be extradited from Sweden to the United States. It has received no such guarantees.

“Of course this leads one to think that this is a political case.”

The decision made a mockery of Britain’s claim of judicial independence, he said.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted he will still be able to work with Mitt Romney if he’s elected U.S. president despite him calling Russia the “number one geopolitical foe”.

Vladimir Putin made the remark about Mitt Romney during yesterday interview on the Kremlin-funded Russia Today TV channel.

The president said: “We’ll work with whichever president is elected by the American people. But our effort will be only as efficient as our partners will want it to be.”

Vladimir Putin expressed concern about how a Romney presidency would affect the two countries’ long-running dispute over U.S.-led NATO plans to place elements of a missile-defense system in Europe. Russia contends the system could undermine its own defenses.

Vladimir Putin expressed concern about how a Romney presidency would affect their countries long-running dispute over NATO plans

Vladimir Putin expressed concern about how a Romney presidency would affect their countries long-running dispute over NATO plans

He added that if Mitt Romney is elected “the missile defense system will definitely be directed against Russia”.

The wide-ranging interview showed Vladimir Putin’s acerbic and combative side, particularly on the issue of the two-year prison sentence imposed last month on three members of the provocateur band Pussy Riot for their “punk prayer” prank in Moscow’s main cathedral entreating the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Putin.

Their conviction brought widespread criticism of Russia for stifling opposition and free speech.

Vladimir Putin briefly sparred with the English-speaking interviewer over how the band’s name could be translated into Russian, declaring: “I think you wouldn’t do it because it sounds too obscene, even in English.”

He also vigorously defended Russia’s stance on the escalating civil war in Syria.

Russia has come under strong criticism in the West for blocking U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at pressuring Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, which is fighting an increasingly vigorous armed opposition.

Activists now put the death toll from the uprising that began in March 2011 at between 23,000 and 26,000.

Russia has said its policy is not aimed at supporting Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin in the interview gave strong indication that Moscow may have written off the Syrian leader.

“We realize that this country needs a change,” he said.

“But this doesn’t mean that change should come with bloodshed.”

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Two members of punk-rock group Pussy Riot, who are being sought by Russian police, have fled the country, the band’s Twitter account says.

Three members of the group were jailed this month for staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.

The pair who fled has not been named but the husband of one of the jailed women said the duo had taken part in the cathedral protest in February.

Many in the West condemned the Pussy Riot sentences as disproportionate.

However, the Kremlin has rejected accusations by musicians and some governments that the case was politically motivated.

Two members of punk-rock group Pussy Riot, who are being sought by Russian police, have fled the country

Two members of punk-rock group Pussy Riot, who are being sought by Russian police, have fled the country

Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich were found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and jailed for two years.

The Twitter account called Pussy Riot Group said: “In regard to the pursuit, two of our members have successfully fled the country! They are recruiting foreign feminists to prepare new actions!”

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova’s husband, Pyotr Verzilov, told Reuters news agency: “Since the Moscow police said they are searching for them, they will keep a low profile for now. They are in a safe place beyond the reach of the Russian police.”

He suggested that this meant a country that had no extradition arrangement with Russia.

Pyotr Verzilov told Reuters: “Twelve or even 14 members who are still in Russia actively participate in the band’s work now, it’s a big collective.”

The jailed women are appealing against their sentences.

Following the verdict, Russian police said they were actively searching for other members of the group who had taken part in the cathedral protest.

But they gave no names and did not say how many were being sought.

The jailed women said their performance of a “punk prayer” on 21 February in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral had been to highlight the Russian Orthodox Church leader’s support for Vladimir Putin.

Their brief, obscenity-laced performance, which implored the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out”, enraged the Orthodox Church.

 

 

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

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.

 

The three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot accused of hooliganism have been jailed for two years after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.

Judge Marina Syrova convicted the women of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, saying they had “crudely undermined social order”.

The women say the protest, in February, was directed at the Russian Orthodox Church leader’s support for Vladimir Putin.

The US, UK and EU all criticized the sentences as “disproportionate”.

Prosecutors had been seeking a three-year jail sentence for the women.

Judge Marina Syrova said Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, had offended the feelings of Orthodox believers and shown a “complete lack of respect”.

“Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich committed hooliganism – in other words, a grave violation of public order,” Judge Marina Syrova said.

Along with other members of their band, the women staged a flashmob-style performance of their song close to the altar in the cathedral on 21 February.

Judge Marina Syrova convicted Pussy Riot members of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred

Judge Marina Syrova convicted Pussy Riot members of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred

Their brief, obscenity-laced performance, which implored the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out”, enraged the Orthodox Church – its leader Patriarch Kirill said it amounted to blasphemy.

Vladimir Putin was elected for a third term as president two weeks later.

Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, watching Friday’s proceedings from inside a glass-walled cage in the courtroom, smiled as the widely predicted conviction was announced.

The judge then took three hours to read the verdict, before handing down “two years deprivation of liberty in a penal colony” for each defendant.

“Considering the nature and degree of the danger posed by what was done, the defendants’ correction is possible only through an actual punishment,” Judge Marina Surova said.

One man in the courtroom shouted “shame” at the sentencing, and there were chants and whistles from the band’s supporters outside.

Nadezdha Tolokonnikova’s husband, Pyotr Verzilov, said: “Russia’s image was quite scary even before [this]. What happened now is a clear sign that Russia is moving towards becoming more like China or North Korea.”

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny added: “They are in jail because it is Putin’s personal revenge. This verdict was written by Vladimir Putin.”

The defendants’ lawyer, Nikolai Polozov, said they would not appeal to President Vladimir Putin for a pardon. However, there will be a legal appeal against the verdict.

Amnesty International said the ruling was a “bitter blow” for freedom of expression in Russia.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and the UK’s Foreign Office criticized the severity of the sentences.

US state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said: “We urge Russian authorities to review this case and ensure that the right to freedom of expression is upheld.”

On Thursday, Nadezdha Tolokonnikova had said she was “not bitter about being in jail”. But, speaking through her lawyer on Twitter, she said: “Politically, I am furious.”

“Our imprisonment serves as a clear and unambiguous sign that freedom is being taken away from the entire country,” she said.

The women have been detained for the past five months.

Associated Press news agency said a number of protesters had been arrested outside the court before the sentencing was announced, including ex-world chess champion Garry Kasparov and opposition politician Sergei Udaltsov.

There were also pro-Pussy Riot protests in Paris, where demonstrators in Igor Stravinsky square chanted “Freedom”, and in Kiev, where women protesters sawed down a wooden cross in a central square.

Other shows of support took place in Belgrade, Berlin, Sofia, London, Dublin and Barcelona.

The band has also had vocal support from artists including Paul McCartney and Madonna, and from politicians.

Critics of the band have also been demonstrating, saying the stunt was an insult to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Igor Kim from Moscow said: “Shouting and screaming and spreading hate in Church is unacceptable and is contrary with Christian ethics.”

Valentina Ivanova, a retired doctor, told Reuters: “What they did showed disrespect towards everything, and towards believers first of all.”

One protester outside court in Moscow simply shouted: “Let Pussy Riot and all their supporters burn in hell.”

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Russian punk group Pussy Riot plans to continue their anti-Putin protests despite the trial of three colleagues on hooliganism charges.

Seven of the balaclava-clad women spoke out about their protest campaign during an interview with BBC, using only their nicknames.

A band member called Mother said “of course” when asked if Pussy Riot would carry on protesting as before.

“We’ll try to follow our principles, of freedom of speech… we will do it to support our sisters in prison.”

Russian punk group Pussy Riot plans to continue their anti-Putin protests despite the trial of three colleagues on hooliganism charges

Russian punk group Pussy Riot plans to continue their anti-Putin protests despite the trial of three colleagues on hooliganism charges

Some of the interviewees took part in the protest on 21 February which led to three being arrested and put on trial.

The verdict is expected on Friday. Russian prosecutors have asked for three years in prison for the women.

Pussy Riot played a song attacking Russian President Vladimir Putin at the altar of Moscow’s Christ the Saviour cathedral.

The band sided with protesters who staged huge marches against Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party after December parliamentary elections marred by many alleged abuses.

In the interview, another band member, Terminator, said: “Nobody can mute us, nobody can forbid us to do what we want… We want Russia to be a better place… We won’t stop, we would do it again.”

Terminator continued: “I hope somebody in the government realizes now they’re doing something very awful, very bad and have to stop it.”

She said the church protest was “not an act of hooliganism, definitely not an anti-religious act” but a “political performance” against President Vladimir Putin.

 

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Madonna has appealed for the release of three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot during her MDNA show in Moscow.

Madonna told a crowd at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday night that she was praying for the women’s freedom.

She briefly wore a balaclava – in a nod to Pussy Riot’s trademark outfits – and had the group’s name on her back.

Prosecutors have called for the women, who are accused of inciting religious hatred, to be jailed for three years.

The judge is expected to start delivering her verdict on 17 August. Announcing the verdict could take days, correspondents say.

Madonna has appealed for the release of three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot during her MDNA show in Moscow

Madonna has appealed for the release of three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot during her MDNA show in Moscow

Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, played a song attacking Russian leader Vladimir Putin in front of the altar of Moscow’s main cathedral on 21 February.

They said it was a reaction to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, publicly backing Vladimir Putin in elections.

Addressing cheering fans at the stadium, Madonna said: “I know there are many sides to every story, and I mean no disrespect to the church or the government, but I think that these three girls – Masha, Katya, Nadya – I think that they have done something courageous.”

“I know that everyone in this auditorium, if you are here as my fan, feels they have the right to be free,” she said.

Other international musicians including Sting and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have also appealed for leniency.

Artist Yoko Ono has spoken out in support of the band.

In a Twitter post, John Lennon’s widow said: “Mr. Putin you are a wise man & don’t need to fight with musicians & their friends.”

In a closing statement to the court on Wednesday, Pussy Riot’s lead singer, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, said the court was carrying out a Stalin-era “political order for repression”.

She said that the authorities had refused to listen to the group, and that it was “not a trial over Pussy Riot but of the entire Russian political system”.

The three women have been sitting inside a glass cage at the courtroom.

Last week, Vladimir Putin, who was re-elected president in March, called for leniency towards the women during a visit to London for the Olympic Games.

There are fears among Russian opposition activists that the trial is part of a crackdown on dissent since Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin, following the biggest anti-government protests in recent Russian history.

Pussy Riot’s performance inside Christ the Saviour Cathedral was captured on video.

The women danced and sang a song which parodies a Christian prayer, imploring the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Vladimir Putin.

Defence lawyer Mark Feygin argued on Tuesday that the case against the women did not stand up because they had been charged with hooliganism under Article 213 of the Russian penal code yet no violence or damage had occurred or been threatened.

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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 Pussy Riot, on trial for an anti-Putin protest at Moscow's main cathedral, has been given medical treatment in court

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.