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Pussy Riot: Prosecution seeks 3-year prison sentence

Foregoing the maximum 7-year prison sentence, the prosecution seeks 3 years.

Pussy riot in custody Enlarge
Members of the all-girl punk band 'Pussy Riot.' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L), Maria Alyokhina (R) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (C), sit during a court hearing in Moscow on July 30, 2012. In February, five women walked silently into Moscow's Church of Christ the Saviour before clambering over railings, pulling on balaclavas, and singing out a protest song against Vladimir Putin. The three have already spent four months in jail awaiting trial . (Andrey Smirnov/AFP/Getty Images)

Prosecutors requested 3-year jail terms for the members of Pussy Riot, a Russian punk band charged with hooliganism for performing an anti-Putin "punk prayer" in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral.  

Until today, Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, were looking at possible seven-year prison sentences. Human rights groups, celebrities, and Russian citizens have demanded the band's immediate release. Amnesty International's UK Director Kate Allen called on Russian authorities "to drop the charges of hooliganism and immediately and unconditionally release" the three women.

The women have been in pre-trial detention since March 4th. Defense lawyers say their clients were abused.

At the London Olympics last week President Vladimir Putin said Pussy Riot "should not be judged too harshly," the Moscow Times reported. Pussy Riot defense lawyer Mark Feygin said Putin's comments might persuade the judge to deliver a lenient sentence. Defense lawyer Nikolai Polozov said Putin's comments were a "crucial turn" in the case, the Moscow Times reported

But the courtroom was still a contentious scene today. Federal prosecutor Alexei Nikiforov said Pussy Riot "must be isolated from society," according to the Guardian

Polozov, one of the defense lawyers, said, "This is a nightmare. Blood is pouring from my ears," according to Reuters. Feygin, another defense lawyer, told the court in an impassioned speech that a conviction meant Russia had no rule of law or justice system.

Sentencing could happen this week. But then again, it might not. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/120807/pussy-riot-prosecution-seeks-3-year-prison-sentence