Europeans rally to free the Russian girl band Pussy Riot.

At Tuesday's pretrial hearings for Pussy Riot, a Russian female punk band, the Russian government wasn't taking any chances. The courtyard was cordoned off, along with the street outside. And anyone holding a sign or chanting was thrown into a police bus.

The three band members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina, and Ekaterina Samutsevich, are being prosecuted for an unsanctioned "punk-prayer" called "Our Lady, chase Putin out." In January, they performed the so-called "prayer" for about half a minute in the Moscow Christ the Savior Cathedral before being booted by the church’s security guards.

They are now facing up to seven years in prison. Two of the performers have children. According to the New York Times:

Neither Mr. Verzilov nor his wife [Tolokonnikova] thought the authorities would react so harshly this time, he said. He took the couple’s 4-year-old daughter, Gera, to a hearing this month when it was rumored that the three women might be released. On Friday, he went without her. 

“She understands what is happening,” he said. “She tells everyone that Putin put Mother in a cage and now we have to fight so that they’ll let her out.”

Members of the Russian radical feminist group 'Pussy Riot' sing a song at the so-called Lobnoye Mesto (Forehead Place), long before used for announcing Russian tsars' decrees and occasionally for carrying out public executions, in Red Square in Moscow. Eight activists, who were later detained by police, staged a performance to protest against the policies conducted by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

Artist Pyotr Pavlensky, a supporter of jailed members of female punk band "Pussy Riot", looks on with his mouth sewed up as he protests outside the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg. A court on Monday rejected a request to call President Vladimir Putin and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church to testify in the trial of three female punk rockers who derided Putin in a protest in the country's main cathedral, their lawyer said. Reuters

A woman reads a leaflet during a protest rally in support of the detained members of the Russian all-girl punk rock band Pussy Riot in Prague.

REUTERS/David W Cerny

People write messages on a wall in support of the detained members of the Russian all-girl punk rock band Pussy Riot in Prague.

REUTERS/David W Cerny

A woman holds an egg, painted by artist Dmitriy Shagin, which depicts faces of Pussy Riot band members during an auction in St. Petersburg.

REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

About the Author

Amanda Erickson

Amanda Erickson is a former senior associate editor at CityLab. 

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