Moscow: Amnesty International has called for
the immediate release of three members of a Russian feminist
punk band who face up to seven years in prison for performing
in a church.
The global human rights watchdog said it did not know if
the detained women were in fact members of the Pussy Riot band
because the group performed all its protest songs wearing
"Even if the three arrested women did take part in the
protest, the severity of the response of the Russian
authorities... would not be a justifiable response to the
peaceful -- if, to many, offensive -- expression of their
political beliefs," Amnesty International said in a statement
"They would therefore be prisoners of conscience."
Five members of the radical group climbed on the altar of
Moscow`s Christ the Saviour Cathedral -- the country`s central
place of worship -- on February 21 and sang a song they called
a "Punk Prayer" before being seized by guards.
The song`s lyrics called for the Virgin Mary to "drive out
(president-elect Vladimir) Putin" and to "become a feminist".
The three women have been charged with hooliganism
committed by an organised group -- an unusually harsh charge