Pussy Riot appeals hooliganism conviction in Russia

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Members of the all-girl punk band 'Pussy Riot,' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (C), Maria Alyokhina (R) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (L), sit behind bars during a court hearing in Moscow on July 20, 2012.

Credit:

Natalia Kolesnikova

Three members of the feminist punk rock band Pussy Riot are appealing their conviction on hooliganism charges.

A lawyer for the Russian band filed the appeal on Monday, although he told Reuters he had little hope that the conviction would be overturned.

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"If the court abides by the law it would throw out the verdict," defense lawyer Nikolai Polozov told Reuters. "But being realists, understanding all the efforts the state has put into this case, we think it's unlikely the verdict will be overturned."

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were convicted earlier this month and sentenced to two years in prison for their unauthorized performance at Moscow's Christ the Savior cathedral in February, according to The Associated Press.

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During their guerrilla performance, the band entreated the Virgin Mary to protect Russia from Putin, who was then poised to become Russia's president.

Their sentences have drawn international criticism for being too harsh, and musicians like Madonna and Paul McCartney have called for their release.

A decision on the appeal is expected within 10 days.

Meanwhile, the band has said that at least two of its members have fled Russia to avoid arrest.