MOSCOW — Dozens of Russian intellectuals have signed an open letter calling on the Kremlin to release feminist punk rockers who face up to seven years in jail for staging a prank prayer against President Vladimir Putin.

Three members of the Pussy Riot band were arrested after their February prank prayer at Moscow's Christ the Savior cathedral, in which they asked Mother Mary to deliver Russia from Putin's return to the Kremlin for a third term.

The letter released Wednesday and signed by at least 112 writers, film stars and rock musicians says that the upcoming trial would divide Russian society.

Three of the band members are charged with "hooliganism," while Kremlin-controlled media lambast them for "blasphemy" and disrespect to the Russian Orthodox Church, the country's largest.

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  • Maria Alekhina, a member of the feminist punk band, Pussy Riot, in a cage in a district court in Moscow, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of the feminist punk band, Pussy Riot, waves to supporters in Moscow's Tagansky district court, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Yekaterina Samutsevich, a member of the feminist punk band, Pussy Riot, sits in a defender's cage in a district court in Moscow, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Yekaterina Samutsevich, a member of the feminist punk band, Pussy Riot, is escorted in a district court in Moscow, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Yekaterina Samutsevich, a member of the feminist punk band, Pussy Riot, sits in a defender's cage in a district court in Moscow, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of the feminist punk band, Pussy Riot, sits behind bars in Moscow's Tagansky district court, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of the feminist punk band, Pussy Riot, is excorted in Moscow's Tagansky district court, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of female Russian punk band Pussy Riot, stands inside a defendant's cage in a Moscow court, on April 19, 2012, during the hearings on the Pussy Riot case. (ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • In this Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 file photo, members of the Russian radical feminist group Pussy Riot try to perform at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)

  • A man writes on a wall dedicated to supporting the detained members of the Russian all-girl punk rock band Pussy Riot on June 18, 2012, in Prague. (MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/GettyImages)