Anti-Putin punk band member denied deferral of sentence over child concern

A Russian court has turned down the attempt by an imprisoned member of the Pussy Riot feminist punk band to defer serving her sentence until her preschool son becomes a teenager.

Maria Alekhina on Wednesday asked the court to let her serve the rest of her two-year sentence after her 5-year-old son turns 14, arguing that separation from her child now will do irreparable psychological damage.

Alekhina also told the court on Wednesday that while she wants her sentence deferred, she refused to plead guilty.

"No one will force me to say I'm guilty — I have nothing to repent for," she said.

She was convicted last year along with two other band members of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for an anti-President Vladimir Putin stunt in Russia's main cathedral. The Pussy Riot members performed a "punk prayer" at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral, pleading with the Virgin Mary for deliverance from Putin. Yekaterina Samutsevich's sentence was suspended in October after she argued she was thrown out by guards before she could take part in the stunt.

Judge Galina Yefremova rejected the petition, saying the court that sentenced Alekhina had already taken the child's existence into account.

Sentence deferrals are uncommon. In fact, there are several prison colonies for female convicts with small children who raise their babies behind bars.