More jail for 3 who mocked Putin

Maria Alyokhina is a member of the Russian punk rock band that mocked Vladimir Putin in February.

MOSCOW — Three female punk rockers who mocked Vladimir Putin in a surprise protest inside Russia’s main Orthodox church will be kept in jail, a Moscow court ruled Thursday.

Five members of the feminist band, clad in brightly colored ski masks and miniskirts, briefly seized the pulpit of Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral in February and chanted “Mother Mary, drive Putin away.”

Three band members have been in police custody since March and face up to seven years in jail on charges of hooliganism

Their cause — and the harsh response of the Russian Orthodox Church — has provoked a public outcry and criticism of Russia’s largest religious institution.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich will remain in detention until June 24, a Tagansky district court judge decided, after an investigator petitioned to keep them in prison while the police investigation continues.

The band’s performance “in a holy place was illegal and utterly cynical,” investigator Artyom Ranchenkov said in televised remarks.

The band gained notoriety in January for performing a song taunting Putin from a spot on Red Square that was used in czarist Russia for announcing government decrees. Video of their performances became instant Internet hits.

The band’s unauthorized “punk prayer” took place two weeks before March’s presidential vote in which Putin won a third presidential term despite a wave of massive protests against his rule.