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Stanislav Samutsevich, the father of one of the women, said he also had little hope, saying that he believed the government would use the appeals process to “in some way justify the severe sentence imposed.”

Friends and family say they have tried to keep the women busy with books and letters to try to lighten their mood.

Olga Vinogradova, a children’s librarian, book reviewer, and longtime friend of the convicted Maria Alekhina, sent her philosophy books to read. She said she received messages from Alekhina once or twice a week.

Like Tolokonnikova, Alekhina is the mother of a young child, a 5-year-old boy, a fact which has drawn particular sympathy from supporters of the women, who have been behind bars since their arrest in March.

“One thing that she wrote to me in a letter is that . she couldn’t pay a higher price than such a long separation from her child,” said Vinogradova. “For her freedom to speak her mind that is the greatest price.”

Vinogradova said that in her exchanges with Alekhina her friend had expressed little hope of leaving with an effective appeal.

“She’s scared about what’s happening now, with the new laws,” said Vinogradova, “I think she may have expected more from the protest movement.”

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Vladimir Isachenkov contributed to this report.