MOSCOW, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- The Russian Orthodox Church called on the controversial punk band Pussy Riot to repent their insults to religion as they appeal their prison sentence.
Church officials said Sunday repentance would be a first good step for the three rockers who will be in court this week to challenge their conviction on charges of hooliganism and inciting religious hatred.
"Considering that the aim of punishment is correction, some words by the offenders of the law evidencing their repentance and rethinking of what their have done should be heard and they should get a chance to embark upon the path of correction," the church said in a written statement.
The Pussy Riot trio was arrested for staging a protest earlier this year against President Vladimir Putin at a Moscow cathedral. During the event, they called on "Mother Mary" to run Putin out of office.
A court ruled the defendants had deliberately insulted members of the Orthodox Church, which had been a supporter of Putin, Russia's RIA Novosti news agency said.
The prosecution of Pussy Riot was assailed by critics including free-speech and political activists as a muzzling of opposition to Putin.