Paul McCartney to Pussy Riot: 'Stay Strong'
Paul McCartney to Pussy Riot: 'Stay Strong'

Lawyers representing the two imprisoned members of Pussy Riot are set to launch an appeal to Russia’s Supreme Court to reverse their conviction for hooliganism.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina are serving two-year sentences handed down by a Moscow court last August.

A third member of the group, Yekaterina Samutsevich, who was also convicted for her part in an anti-Putin protest at Russia’s top Orthodox cathedral in Moscow in February of 2012, had her sentenced suspended last October after lawyers successfully argued she had been seized by church security guards before reaching the altar.

Lawyer Irina Khrunova says the appeal to the Supreme Court will be based on her argument that the verdict was "illegal."

No date has yet been set for the appeal.

Alyokhina, whose bid to win parole from her sentence in a prison colony near Perm in Russia’s central Urals region, was rejected in late May, will also appeal that decision on July 24, Khrunova told the Russian Legal Information Agency newswire.

Alyokhina went on a hunger strike for 11 days after being denied permission to attend her parole hearing in person.

The Pussy Riot case provoked outrage in Russia, where many people found the "punk poem" they performed in the cathedral deeply offensive.

In fact, the group, which has released seven songs and five videos available via Internet downloads but hasn't received much critical acclaim as musicians, had only pranced around dressed in their trademark bright clothes and balaclavas to hide their identities in the altar area of the cathedral before being caught by security guards.

Two members evaded capture and are thought to have gone into hiding overseas.

The controversy surfaced after the young women added music to a video they shot of the incident, entitled "Punk Prayer -- Mother of God, Chase Putin Way!!," and uploaded it to the Internet. 

Film and music industry figures worldwide, including Sir Paul McCartney and Madonna, have supported Pussy Riot, appealing to President Vladimir Putin to secure their release.

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