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Russian court delays start of Pussy Riot appeal hearing

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Oct. 1, 2012, 11:59 a.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Reuters

Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Maria Alekhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia on Monday Oct. 1, 2012. A Russian court is set to hear an appeal filed by three jailed members of the rock band Pussy Riot, who have been sentenced to two years for performing a "punk prayer" against President Vladimir Putin at Moscow's main cathedral.
© AP

MOSCOW - A Russian court on Monday delayed the start of a hearing into an appeal against the conviction of three members of the Pussy Riot punk band who burst into a church and performed a protest against President Vladimir Putin.

One of the band members, Yekaterina Samutsevich, told the Moscow court that she was dismissing her defence lawyers because of a disagreement over the handling of the case. The court then delayed the start of the hearing from Monday until Oct. 10.

Western governments have portrayed the three women's two-year sentences as excessive, and opposition groups see their treatment a part of a crackdown on dissent since Putin's return to the presidency in May, but many Russians regard them as irreverent self-publicists.

Samutsevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were in August found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after storming into the Christ the Saviour Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Moscow in February and belting out a "punk prayer" asking the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin.

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