(Newsroom America) -- The United States says it is concerned about both the verdict and the disproportionate sentences handed down by a Moscow court in the case against the members of the band Pussy Riot and the negative impact on freedom of expression in Russia.
Three women from the punk rock band were arrested in March following an unauthorized performance in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in which they sang a song which is anti Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30 were today convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced to two years imprisonment each.
U.S. State Department Spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, said the United States urged Russian authorities to review the case and ensure that the right to freedom of expression is upheld.
Amnesty International said it believed that the trial of the Pussy Riot defendants – Maria Alekhina, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova – was politically motivated, and that they were wrongfully prosecuted for what was a legitimate – if potentially offensive – protest action.
The organization considers all three activists to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for the peaceful expression of their beliefs.
“The Russian authorities should overturn the court ruling and release the members of Pussy Riot immediately and unconditionally,” said John Dalhuisen, Director of Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia Programme.
“What Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ekaterina Samutsevich did was calculated to shock - and did shock many. But in sentencing them to two years’ imprisonment, Russia has set the limits of freedom of expression in the wrong place.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying President Putin was unable to intervene in the judicial process and refused to comment on the sentence.