The BBC reports today that two members of Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot remain in custody after overrunning the pulpit of a church last month and protesting Russian president-elect Vladimir Putin. The women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Mariya Alekhina, will be held until Apr. 24 and could face up to seven years in prison for the protests, on charges of hooliganism:

“The all-female feminist band gained notoriety for its masked performances denouncing Vladimir Putin in the run-up to presidential elections which were held earlier this month. They performed in high-profile places such as Red Square and on a rooftop opposite a jail where anti-government protesters had been locked up.

In the Red Square performance the group sang 'Putin has wet himself' before police arrived. The two women were arrested after the group chanted 'Mother Mary, drive Putin away' at Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral on 21 February.



The Orthodox Church condemned the incident saying it was blasphemous but it has called for mercy on the two mothers. The Moscow City Court said they will remain in custody until 24 April.”

Church officials have already denounced the group for its practices, according to the Washington Post:

“The Russian Orthodox Church said the women deserve “fair justice” for the “blasphemous” performance at the cathedral, although thousands of believers signed a petition urging the church to forgive the band.

'You shouldn’t bring such behavior into a church,' said Orthodox activist Nikita Slepnev. 'We don’t need dancing prostitutes in our churches.'

Although church and state are separate under Russia’s constitution, the Russian Orthodox Church has claimed a leading role in setting moral guidelines for society.”

Freedom of assembly is guaranteed to Russian citizens in the country's constitution. What do you think of the group's tactics and the responses of both church and state? Let us know in the comments.