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Russia's Pussy Riot picked as finalist for Sakharov EU human rights prize

The European Parliament has included the Russian punk band Pussy Riot among its finalists for the European Union's annual Sakharov human rights prize.

Three members of the Pussy Riot band have been given a two-year prison sentence for hooliganism after they performed a "punk prayer" against President Vladimir Putin at Moscow's main cathedral. The sentence provoked an international outcry that has embarrassed the government of President Vladimir Putin.

The other finalists are the imprisoned Belarusian human rights defender, Ales Belyatsky, and a pair of Iranians, lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and movie director Jafar Panahi.

The winner of the EU's main human rights prize, named for the late Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, will be announced Dec. 12 in Strasbourg, France.