Artists and musicians around the world have called for their release. Now, nearly four months after three women were arrested for performing a protest anthem inside Moscow's most important Orthodox church, a growing number of Russians are joining calls for their freedom.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Ekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alehina - all members of the anarchic Pussy Riot punk band - have been in prison since March, held on charges of hooliganism which could eventually mean a seven-year sentence.
Many Muscovites were happy enough to see a tough response to the band's irreverent act of rebellion at the Christ the Saviour cathedral, which was aimed at President Vladimir Putin. But with no trial date set, no signs that they will be released and opposition to Putin spreading, support for the trio has grown, even among those who condemned them.
"Their actions insulted me, because I'm religious," said Alexander Ivanov, a popular musician. "It's not what they said, it's where they did it. I was offended - but for them to get seven years in jail for an unsuccessful experiment, that's going too far."
Ivanov is one of more than 100 cultural figures who signed an open letter calling on the state to release the women, in an indication that popular unease at their plight is growing.
"It scares me that, for a rather unsuccessful, but extreme, cultural experiment, they want to jail them for so many years," he said. "Artists need to have freedom."
Some of Russia's best-known opposition figures - satirist Viktor Shenderovich, poet Lev Rubinstein, musician Yury Shevchuk - signed the letter. Other names were more surprising, such as those of actress Chulpan Khamatova and actor Yevgeny Mironov, both of whom appeared in videos for Putin's re-election campaign this year. Director Fyodor Bondarchuk, a prominent supporter of Putin's, also added his name.
The signatories warned of the social divisions caused by the case, stating: "While the participants in the performance have been held under arrest, an atmosphere of impatience has grown in society which will cause division and radicalism. We do not see any legal foundation or practical sense in further isolating from society these young women who present no real danger."
Nearly 25,000 other supporters have added their names to the letter, which was published on the website of the liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy.
The domestic groundswell of opinion comes after a concerted international campaign. Beastie Boy Ad-Rock - real name Adam Horowitz - has performed at a Pussy Riot benefit in New York; the US punk band Anti-Flag have released an English-language cover of the controversial Punk Prayer, and the Tokyo Palace in Paris has opened an exhibit on the jailed rockers.
Benefits have been held in Prague, Warsaw and Tallinn, where the Estonian president was in attendance. But such backing from Russia's cultural intelligentsia was until recently all but non-existent. Artemy Troitsky, Russia's premier rock critic, thinks similar acts in Russia would be impossible.
"We could put on a concert in support of Pussy Riot in a forest or something. But in our police state it's not realistic to put on such a concert - it would be stopped."
Troitsky, a harsh regime critic with a sharp, expletive-laden tongue, has instead gathered hundreds of artists to put together a series of albums to support the growing movement against Putin's rule - and to call for Pussy Riot's release. The so-called "White Album" has more than 350 artists so far; a proper album is in the works. Troitsky is hoping for songs, or messages of support, from stars such as Paul McCartney or Madonna, who will perform in St Petersburg in August.
Last week Amnesty International again called for the release of the three women, whom they have dubbed prisoners of conscience. The statement came after a Moscow court extended the trio's detention until July 24. No trial start date has been set.
"The case is dragging on because they can't do anything - on the one hand, they can't let them go because it would be against Putin's order; on the other hand, they can't start the trial because they have no argument," Troitsky said.
- ObserverBy Miriam Elder