The three members of the all girl punk band, Pussy Riot, should not be 'be judged too severely' according to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a shocking twist to the saga of the on-trial musicians, the Russian President criticised the treatment of the group, who played a 'punk prayer' in Moscow's Christ the Saviour cathedral, which was a protest aimed at Putin himself.
The World leader, who was in London watching the Olympics this week, said:"There is nothing good in this, I wouldn't really like to comment, but I think if the girls were, let's say, in Israel, and insulted something in Israel … it wouldn't be so easy for them to leave.
"Nonetheless, I don't think they should be judged too severely for this, but the final decision rests with the courts – I hope the court will deliver a correct, well-founded ruling."
The three women, all aged under 30, face up to seven years in prison if found guilty on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.
Above: Pussy Riot members on trial in Russia
They have argued that they were carrying out a political protest against the church's support of Putin ahead of elections that saw Putin return to the presidency for the third time amid controversy and protests.
Musicians and artists around the world have come forward to condemn the treatment of the three women. With the latest being Jarvis Cocker, Martha Wainwright and other musicians, who wrote an open letter to The Times yesterday (August 1), in which they stated: ''We are extremely concerned about the treatment [Pussy Riot] have received since their arrest and during their trial. We feel that a minor breach of the peace for an incident at the Cathedral of Christ The Saviour in Moscow in February was a legitimate protest."
Watch: The 'Punk Prayer' protest below