Three imprisoned members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot could be freed on Oct. 1 after Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called for their release, saying further time in prison would be "unproductive." Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were convicted of "hooliganism driven by religious hatred" last month and sentenced to two years in jail after taking part in a "punk prayer" protest of Russian President Vladimir Putin in February at a Moscow church.

The three members officially appealed their sentence on Aug. 28, and a hearing initially was expected within 10 days. With that window having come and gone, an Oct. 1 hearing is now scheduled. It is not immediately known what weight Prime Minister Medvedev's comments carry, but an AP report issued Wednesday said that his comments "could signal the band members' imminent release as their case comes up for appeal."

The women had been in jail for at least five month by the time of their sentencing in August. The Pussy Riot case has brought national attention to Russia's human-rights record and an outpouring of support for Western rock musicians like Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bjork and Peaches. Last week, the band thanked its supporters worldwide in a video posted online via NME.com.