- Associated Press - Monday, August 6, 2012

MOSCOW — Madonna has voiced hope that three feminist Russian rockers on trial for performing a “punk prayer” against Vladimir Putin are released soon.

The pop star told the AP during her concert tour of Russia that she supports freedom of speech and hopes the judge will show leniency.

“I’m against censorship, so I hope that the judge is lenient with them and that they are freed soon,” she said.

Two weeks before Putin’s return to the presidency in March’s election, the three members of the Pussy Riot band high-kicked and danced in Moscow’s main cathedral while singing “Virgin Mary, drive Putin away!”

The three were arrested, and have spent five months in custody on charges of hooliganism. They face seven years in prison if convicted.

International rights groups have called them prisoners of conscience.

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