Russia Uses Hooliganism Charge for 2-Year Sentence for All-Female Band

Three members of the Russian female punk rock band P---- Riot were sentenced to two years in prison after they were found guilty of hooliganism after performing a song critical of President Vladimir Putin while in a church.

Moscow district court judge Marina Sirovaya said charges against the three women; Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich had been proved by witnesses and the facts and would not be acquitted, according to state run news agency RIA Novosti.

Charges were brought against the three members of the all-girl band after an impromptu February performance in Christ Savior Cathedral where they said "Mother Mary please drive Putin away" during the short lived gig.

Moscow district court heard that the three worked together to carry out their "criminal act which violated public order" an action that "went against tradition and is a great insult to the church and people," wrote Sirovaya.

Reports indicate that the three wore revealing neon clothing and covered their faces with balaclava style masks in a style that was deemed inappropriate by church officials.

The trio has spent the last five months in jail since their arrest in March and the time they have spent in detention would be counted toward the sentence, Sirovaya said. None of the three women is older than 30, and two of them have young children.

The women did "hope for an acquittal but they are ready to continue to fight," defense lawyer Nikolai Polozov said outside the court building Friday.

The case comes in the wake of several recently passed laws cracking down on opposition, including one that raised the fine for taking part in an unauthorized demonstration to 300,000 rubles which is about $9,000.

Another measure requires non-government organizations that are involved in vaguely defined political activity and receive funding from abroad to register as "foreign agents."

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