British pop stars demand fair trial for Russian rockers

A group of British musicians including Pete Townshend and the Pet Shop Boys have urged Russian President Vladimir Putin, due in London on Thursday, to give a fair trial to punk band Pussy Riot.

In a letter published in Thursday's Times newspaper, the twelve musicians called the charges against the three female band members "preposterous".

"Dissent is a right in any democracy and it is entirely disproportionate that they face seven years in jail for what we consider a preposterous charge of 'hooliganism motivated by religious hatred'," the musicians wrote.

Among the signatories of the letter were Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker; Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos; Johnny Marr of The Smiths and folk singer Corinne Bailey Rae.

The trial of the three women who face up to seven years in jail for performing an anti-Putin song in a Moscow church got underway proper Monday, in a case that has divided the country.

One of the accused, Maria Alyokhina , collapsed on Wednesday after suffering a steep drop in blood sugar levels.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was expected to bring up the matter when he met with Putin, who was travelling to London for the Olympics.

Initial hearings in the trial earlier this month saw the court order the three members of the rock group stay in detention until January 2013, a move their supporters condemned as a travesty of justice.

In February, the three women climbed into an area reserved for priests in the Church of Christ the Saviour, the country's top Orthodox cathedral, and performed a "punk prayer" against Putin.

The trio -- Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina -- were all arrested in March. Several others also took part but were never arrested.

Members of the all-girl punk band "Pussy Riot" Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (C), Maria Alyokhina (R) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (L), attend a court hearing in Moscow, July 20, 2012. A group of British musicians including Pete Townshend and the Pet Shop Boys have urged Russian President Vladimir Putin, due in London on Thursday, to give a fair trial to punk band Pussy Riot.

Russian opposition activists protest against the detention of members of the all-female punk band Pussy Riot in St.Petersburg on July 26, 2012. Initial hearings in the trial earlier this month saw the court order the three members of the rock group stay in detention until January 2013, a move their supporters condemned as a travesty of justice.