Charges of hooliganism were filed against two suspected members of the all-female punk group Pussy Riot over a protest at the Russian capital's largest cathedral, their lawyer said.
Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were arrested on Sunday following Pussy Riot's performance of what they called a "punk prayer" at the altar of Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral last month.
Four members of the group, clad in bright balaclavas, bowed and crossed themselves as they sang an acapella version of a song entitled “Holy Sh*t” at the cathedral. The lyrics included lines such as “Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin, chase Putin out!” Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin demonstrated a very “negative” reaction when told about Pussy Riot’s performance, his spokesman said last week.
The two women were remanded in custody on Monday until April 24 and could face up to seven years in jail on hooliganism charges. Both deny any involvement and have gone on a hunger strike.
“Tolokonnikova and Alekhina were today charged with hooliganism,” he said.
The Russian Interior Ministry’s Moscow department confirmed the information, saying that “the identification and search for other participants of this illegal performance is underway.”
The Moscow city court will on Wednesday hear their appeal against being held in custody until April 24.
The group said the act was a protest against public support for Putin by the powerful Orthodox Church’s head, Patriarch Kirill, who took up residence in the Kremlin last year.