Three members of anti-Putin punk rock band Pussy Riot were handed a two year prison sentence Friday by a Russian court.
The members were found guilty of “hooliganism” for an impromptu concert they launched in a Cathedral this February. The group was protesting church head Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill for endorsing Putin.
The performance, which took place on the cathedral’s alter, clocked in at under two minutes.
The band has become a cause célèbre in the U.S. and abroad, with supporters citing that the arrest raised major free speech issues. American musician Anthony Kiedis from the band The Red Hot Chili Peppers recently donned a Free Pussy Riot t-shirt during a concert and former Beatle Paul McCartney drafted a zero hour letter of support for the band.
Even the White House weighed in on the group’s sentencing, with spokesman Josh Earnest calling it “disproportionate” during his press briefing with reporters today.
“The United States is disappointed by the verdict, including the disproportionate sentences that were granted,” Earnest said. “While we understand the group’s behavior was offensive to some, we have serious concerns about the way that these young women have been treated by the Russian judicial system.”
The three members found guilty are Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina. Hooliganism carries a possible charge of 7 years.