U.S. concerned by Russia's treatment of punk band

From left, Maria Alekhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich, and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, members of feminist punk group Pussy Riot sit behind bars at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Russia, Monday, July 30, 2012.Three members of the band are facing trial for performing a "punk prayer" against Vladimir Putin from a pulpit of Moscow's main cathedral before Russia's presidential election in March, in which he won a third term.
AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

(AP) WASHINGTON - The United States is speaking out on behalf of three Russian feminist rockers charged with hooliganism for performing a "punk prayer" in Moscow's main cathedral.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell says the U.S. is concerned about the "politically motivated prosecution of the Russian opposition and pressure on those who express dissenting views."

Russian court extends jail for punk rockers
A glance at trial of feminist anti-Putin rockers

The band, Pussy Riot, performed the stunt in February as a protest against Vladimir Putin's return to the presidency and the Russian Orthodox Church's support for Putin.

The women have been in custody over the last five months; their trial resumed this week.

The case has sharply divided Russia. Some believers felt insulted by the act, while some rights groups have declared the women prisoners of conscience.