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Russian judges defend ruling in Pussy Riot trial

The Associated Press, Thursday, October 11, 2012, 4:13am (PDT)

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian judges who ruled to keep two of the three Pussy Riot band members behind bars have defended their decision, saying it was made independently and without pressure.

Moscow City Court on Wednesday had upheld a district court ruling to send Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina to prison for two years, but released Yekaterina Samutsevich after giving her a suspended sentence.

Judge Larisa Polyakova told reporters Thursday the panel of judges had deemed "correction of Tolokonnikova and Alekhina" impossible outside prison. She denied that there was any pressure on the judges.

Pussy Riot staged an impromptu punk performance against President Vladimir Putin at Moscow's main cathedral in February. The three women were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred but say their stunt was political.

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