MOSCOW, August 7 - RAPSI. U.S. pop singer Madonna has told a daily newspaper that the Pussy Riot punk rock group should have performed outside the Christ the Savior Cathedral, but they do not deserve imprisonment.

She recently arrived to Moscow for her MDNA world tour. In an interview with the Kommersant newspaper, Madonna said that she understands why some people were offended by the group's performance.

She added that the church means a great deal to many people who go to pray there regardless of whether the institution may be corrupt. Therefore, the band should have performed in front of the church as opposed to inside, she said. However, they were right to exercise their freedom of speech by putting on such a performance, Madonna said.

She stressed that a five year prison sentence for the group's members would be too harsh.

Group members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich have remained in pretrial detention since their arrest in early March after an incident that some have lauded as a valid exercise of free speech, and others have lambasted as blasphemous.

On February 21, five girls wearing brightly colored masks stormed the altar of downtown Moscows Christ the Savior Cathedral to perform a protest song entitled, "Holy Sh*t." A video with their performance was posted on the Internet and incited a public uproar.

Over the past month, bands such as Faith No More, Franz Ferdinand, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as Sting, who performed in Russia, have expressed their support for Pussy Riot. Finnish jazz musician Iiro Rantalla also canceled his Russia performance in protest.Additionally the band has been supported by musicians Peter Gabriel, Patty Smith, Nina Hagen, Marc Almond, Van der Graaf Generator band founder Peter Hammill, film director Terry Gilliam, actor Danny DeVito, Stephen Fry and many others.