Three members of the group Pussy Riot received two-year prison sentences for performing a "punk prayer" critical of the Russian leader. A lawyer for the three women accused Putin of trying to influence the outcome of a planned appeal, the British newspaper The Guardian reported.
The women, Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, have apologized for offending church-goers but defended the act as a form of political protest. They were convicted in August of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced to two-year terms, rather than the maximum seven years allowed by Russian law, the newspaper said.
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