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Worshipers split over fate of Pussy Riot

Aug. 11, 2012 at 2:58 PM   |   Comments

MOSCOW, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Worshipers appear divided over the potential fate of members of punk band Pussy Riot on trial for an anti-Putin protest inside a large Moscow cathedral.

The verdict is expected to be released August 17, RIA Novosti reported.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were arrested in March and charged with hooliganism as part of an organized group after they performed a "punk prayer" inside the Christ the Savior Cathedral.

If convicted, the women could face up to three years in jail.

A poll conducted in late July by an independent pollster found that 58 percent of 1,600 people asked said a jail term for the trio would be excessive. Some 33 percent said the women should go to jail.

People interviewed as they left the church were equally divided.

A young woman from Siberia said she felt sorry for them and that "God will judge them eventually."

Another woman was less forgiving. "If you don't respect the beliefs of others, don't come here and dance in our sacred place," she said.

The object of the band members' protest, President Vladimir Putin, seemed not to have an opinion in comments he made at the Olympics. He told reporters the group had not done "anything good," but said they should not be judged too severely.

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