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Here’s a good way to call international attention to your repressive government: Go after a punk rock band with lots of celebrity sympathizers. The musician set — along with plenty of other people across the world — was rightfully furious at Friday’s news that members of Pussy Riot, a Russian punk rock girl-band, had been sentenced to two years in prison after an act of musical protest.

The band’s “crime,” committed in February during Russia’s presidential campaign season, was screaming a “punk-prayer” chant — “Mother Mary, please drive Putin away” — after storming the altar of Moscow’s Christ Savior Cathedral. Some of the band’s other lyrics were critical of the close relationship between President Vladimir Putin’s regime and the Russian Orthodox Church. After their flash protest concert, band members Maria Alekhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich were charged with “hate-motivated hooliganism,” and held without bail for five months. Two of them have young children.

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The band’s lyrics were clearly a form of political protest, an act of dissent against Putin’s increasingly paranoid regime and the questionable election tactics that put him in office. But prosecutors, outrageously, painted their case as a defense of the church; the band was charged with demeaning Orthodox Christians and God. Putin himself, acutely aware of his image, said publicly this month that the women should not be judged “too harshly.” It was a hollow claim; the band required no judgment at all.

If there’s any good to come of the news, it is the international response; the verdict drew protests in Moscow and across Europe and North America. Music is a deeply efficient way of sending a message, and it’s possible that Pussy Riot’s travails will draw swifter attention to Putin’s increasing attacks on protests, websites, and political activity.