MOSCOW, August 16 - RAPSI. Moscow Khamovnichesky District Court judge Marina Syrova, who is presiding over the high-profile Pussy Riot case was granted state protection due to reported threats, the head of the Moscow City Court's press service, Anna Usacheva, told the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI/rapsinews.com) on Thursday.
She said the head of the Moscow City Court, Olga Yegorova, requested the protection to ensure the judge's safety.
On February 21, five women wearing brightly colored masks stormed the altar of downtown Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral to perform a protest song entitled, "Holy Sh*t." A video with their performance that was posted on the Internet incited a public uproar.
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.
Investigators filed charges against the woman under articles of disorderly conduct; they face up to seven years in prison.
During the arraignment the prosecutor demanded that each individual involved in the case be sentenced to three years in prison. The victims in the case believe that conditional sentences will be sufficient for the punk band members; the defendants and their defense attorneys are arguing for acquittal.
The verdict will be handed down on Friday, August 17.