Three young women have pleaded not guilty to charges of 'hooliganism' for staging a punk-rock protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral.
The trio, members of an all-female punk rock band, called Pussy Riot, entered Christ the Savior Cathedral in February, where they staged an impromptu performance of a song whose lyrics call on the Virgin Mary to throw out Putin. The three were arrested in March and have been awaiting trial while in jail.
During Monday's hearing, the three expressed remorse that people were offended by their performance, but added that they would not accept the charges.
Their protest stunt was staged just weeks before the presidential election won by Mr. Putin, who was prime minister at the time.
The women face up to seven years in prison if they are convicted. Rights groups say the punishment is inappropriate.
The band, which was formed last October, is known for its hatred of Putin.