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Pussy Riot band members sent to remote Russian prisons

Two members of Pussy Riot, Russia's female punk band, have been assigned to serve out their two-year sentences in prisons far from Moscow, despite their pleas to be sent to jails closer to the Russian capital, Reuters is reporting.

Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" in August for staging a protest in a Russian Orthodox cathedral targeting Russia's autocratic President Vladimir Putin.

On Feb. 21, five members of the band wearing colorful head-and-face gear entered Cathedral of Christ the Savior and performed a song titled "Punk Prayer -- Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!" which they also recorded as a music video.

Church officials were enraged, and the country's political establishment wasn't pleased either. On Aug. 17 three band members were convicted of hooliganism and sentenced, despite an international outcry that the young women were being punished for exercising their free-speech rights.

The women had requested being sent to prisons near Moscow so that they could be closer to their young children. Instead, according to some of the women's friends, Tolokonnikova has been exiled to Mordovia, about 300 miles east of Moscow; while Alyokhina was dispatched to the Ural Mountains region, roughly 700 miles to the east.

Another convicted band member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was released on appeal.

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