21:09 GMT +3 hours27 November 2014
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Pussy Riot Declare Hunger Strike

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Two female activists of the radical group Pussy Riot detained over last month’s “punk prayer” in a church went on hunger strike on Monday, their supporters said.

Two female activists of the radical group Pussy Riot detained over last month’s “punk prayer” in a church went on hunger strike on Monday, their supporters said.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, both “mothers of small children, went on hunger strike after their questioning to protest the arrest and control of the [criminal] case,” art group Voina said on Twitter.

The duo insists they are entitled to release on bail because they have underage children and are not expected to flee if freed, their lawyer told Gazeta.ru online news daily.

A Moscow court ruled late Monday to keep Tolokonnikova and Alyokina under arrest until April 24.

In February, five masked members of Pussy Riot stormed the Christ the Savior Cathedral in downtown Moscow to perform a “punk prayer” next to the altar, denouncing the Orthodox Christian church for its alleged support of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who won presidential elections on Sunday.

Activists managed to flee after their five-minute stunt, but police detained last week four alleged female members of Pussy Riot as well as one man, Pyotr Verzilov of Voina, though only two, Tolokonnikova and Alyokina, remained in custody.

The church demanded the criminalization of blasphemy following the incident. Legislators did not react, but a criminal case was opened on hooliganism charges, punishable with up to seven years in prison.