Moscow (Reuters) - Three women from the Russian punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in jail on Friday for staging a protest against President Vladimir Putin in a church, a ruling supporters described as his "personal revenge".
The group's backers burst into chants of "Shame" outside the Moscow courthouse and said the case showed Putin was cracking down on dissent in his new six-year term as president. Dozens were detained by police when scuffles broke out.
The United States and the European Union condemned the sentence as disproportionate and asked for it to be reviewed, although state prosecutors had demanded a three-year jail term and the maximum sentence possible was seven years.
But while the women have support abroad, where their case has been taken up by a long list of celebrities including Madonna, Paul McCartney and Sting, opinion polls show few Russians sympathize with them.