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Pussy Riot Release: Intellectuals Demand Freedom For Anti-Putin Rockers

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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, sits in a defender's cage in a district court in Moscow, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

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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