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2 YEARS

Madonna Labeled 'Moralizing Slut' by Russian Official As 'Pussy Riot' Trial Continues

The all-girl punk trio faces up to seven years in a gulag for performing a "punk prayer" in a church.

Pussy Riot Behind Glass Trial - H 2012
Getty Images

Punk is alive.

Russian punk trio Pussy Riot -- Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Maria Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 -- sit ensconced behind glass in a Moscow courtroom this week, facing trial after their March arrest for having performed an anti-government “punk prayer” inside the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. (Watch a video of the performance below.)

VIDEO: Madonna Shows Her Support for Jailed Russian Punk Band Pussy Riot at Moscow Concert 

The three women have been incarcerated for the five months since their arrest, facing charges of “hooliganism,” a crime punishable by up to seven years in prison -- but trial-watchers are saying it will likely be closer to three years spent in a gulag.

The verdict is due Aug. 17.

Among the long list of artists who have voiced solidarity for the group, none has drawn more attention than Madonna, who at a Moscow concert earlier this week donned one of Pussy Riot's trademark balaclavas and announced, "The three girls -- Masha, Katya, Nadya -- I think they have done something courageous. I think they have paid the price and I pray for their freedom. They deserve the right to be free." She also had the band’s name stenciled on her back in black ink.

Madonna has since gone on to outrage locals in St. Petersburg by flouting the city's controversial ban on the "propagation of homosexuality" by handing out pink wristbands -- a sign of LBGT support -- to concertgoers as they entered the arena. City council official Vitaly Milonov is seeking to have the singer prosecuted for the pro-gay statements she later made to the crowd of 25,000.

STORY: Madonna Defies St. Petersburg Gay Pride Ban, Distributes Pink Wristbands to Concert Attendees 

And a top government official has called Madonna a moralizing “slut” on social media, The Guardian reports

"With age, every former s. tries to lecture everyone on morality," Dmitry Rogozin, a deputy prime minister, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday evening. (The abbreviated letter is the one that begins the word for “slut” in Russian.) "Especially during overseas tours."

“Either take off the cross or put on the pants,” Rogozin, a former ambassador to NATO, responded to a Twitter challenger.

The trial -- likened to “both the 1930s Stalinist show trials and medieval witch trials” by Russian journalist Sergey Chernov -- has taken yet another strange turn when an Islamic cleric, or mufti, announced his solidarity with Pussy Riot, Forbes reports.

Nail Mustafin, the Russian mufti in question, tweeted, "We [believing Muslims] thinks that these girls should be let go and should not be prosecuted." The statement quickly made the rounds, and was retweeted by Gruppa Voina, the art collective from which Pussy Riot sprang, as well as Alexey Navalny, a chief critic of President Vladimir Putin's government.