The trial of three members of the Russian rock band, Pussy Riot, begins today. The musicians have been held in jail for almost five months with no bail and no end in sight. They each face up to seven years in prison.
When more than 1,000 people took to the streets of Moscow to protest Vladimir Putin's rule, the punk rock members stormed the altar of Christ the Savior Cathedral in February and sang an anti-Putin punk prayer which included the line, "Virgin Mary, drive Putin away." They were only there for about a minute, but believers were offended.
The three musicians are charged with "hooliganism with religious hatred."
Although church and state are officially separate under Russia's constitution, the Orthodox Church is one Putin's primary supporters and claims that it is playing a leading role in setting moral standards. This cozy relationship has motivated much of the Russian public, Amnesty International and others to champion the Pussy Riot cause.
Violetta Volkova, a lawyer for the band, says "[The documents] try not to make it look like a political case … but for us, it's obviously political. And when somebody says there are no political prisoners in this country, we feel like laughing."