Russia's Pussy Riot punk rockers to remain in custody

Protester outside court Supporters are calling for the women to be freed

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Two women from female Russian punk group Pussy Riot must remain in custody for six more weeks, a court has ruled.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Mariya Alekhina were arrested last month after the band overran the pulpit of a Moscow church.

The group chanted slogans to protest against the president elect Vladimir Putin.

The women, who both have young children, could face seven years in jail if found guilty of hooliganism.

The all-female feminist band gained notoriety for its masked performances denouncing Vladimir Putin in the run-up to presidential elections which were held earlier this month.

They performed in high-profile places such as Red Square and on a rooftop opposite a jail where anti-government protesters had been locked up.

In the Red Square performance the group sang "Putin has wet himself" before police arrived.

The two women were arrested after the group chanted "Mother Mary, drive Putin away" at Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral on 21 February.

Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot Russian feminist punk rock group Pussy Riot rehearse at a secret location

The Orthodox Church condemned the incident saying it was blasphemous but it has called for mercy on the two mothers.

The Moscow City Court said they will remain in custody until 24 April.

The Associated Press news agency is reporting that the women have declared a hunger strike to protest against their treatment.

Fighting broke out outside the court and three of their supporters as well as one critic were arrested.

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