US concerned by Russia's treatment of punk band

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."

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.