Three members of Russian all-girl punk band Pussy Riot have been convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced to two years in jail. This comes after being arrested in February for forcing their way into a Moscow church to sing a “punk prayer” calling for the overthrow of President Vladimir Putin. The case has drawn widespread condemnation as a symbol of the country's general intolerance of political dissent.

A judge announced the verdict just before 7:30AM ET today (Friday, Aug. 17), with the sentence handed down a few hours later. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23; Maria Alekhina, 24; and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, faced up to seven years in prison, but prosecutors only asked for three. Putin himself had called for a lenient sentence for the punk rockers.

The three have apologized for their actions, but pleaded not guilty to the charges that were levied against them. "We accept our ethical misdemeanor, but an ethical misdemeanor should not be a cause of criminal punishment," Tolokonnikova said through a translator before the verdict.

The Pussy Riot case has spurred the Western rock community into action, with artists as varied as the Beastie Boys, Bjork, Peaches and Red Hot Chili Peppers showing their support. Singer Anthony Kiedis brought widespread awareness to the band's plight in July when he wore a Pussy Riot T-shirt during a Chili Peppers concert in Moscow, and just this week Peaches released an indie star-studded video for the tune 'Free Pussy Riot.'