Pussy Riot appeal delayed

A Russian court has delayed the appeal hearing of Pussy Riot band.

Members of the all-girl punk band "Pussy Riot" Yekaterina Samutsevich (L), Maria Alyokhina (C) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (R) sit in a glass-walled cage during a court hearing in Moscow. Picture: AFP.

MOSCOW - A Russian court on Monday delayed the start of a hearing into an appeal against the conviction of three members of the Pussy Riot punk band who burst into a church and performed a protest against President Vladimir Putin.

One of the band members, Yekaterina Samutsevich, told the Moscow court that she was dismissing her defence lawyers because of a disagreement over the handling of the case.

The court then delayed the start of the hearing from Monday until 10 October.

Western governments have portrayed the three women's two-year sentences as excessive, and opposition groups see their treatment a part of a crackdown on dissent since Putin's return to the presidency in May, but many Russians regard them as irreverent self-publicists.

Samutsevich, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were in August found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after storming into the Christ the Saviour Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Moscow in February and belting out a "punk prayer" asking the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin.