Russia's prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, has called for the three jailed members of female punk band Pussy Riot to be freed.

Medvedev said the protest by the band in Moscow's cathedral earlier this year, which criticised President Vladimir Putin, was "sickening", adding he was "sickened by what they did, by their looks, by the hysteria that followed what had happened.

"The prolongation of their incarceration in the conditions of jail seems to me to be unproductive. A suspended sentence, taking into account time they have already spent, would be entirely sufficient.

"This well-known group of girls has been in jail long enough."

Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova are currently in a pre-trial detention centre, awaiting an appeal which will begin on October 1.

During the trial, Putin himself said he hoped the women would not be judged "too harshly".

Each member is due to serve a two-year sentence, after they were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, instead of the three years requested by the prosecution.

Both Putin and Medvedev said they had no intention of interfering in Russia's notoriously politicised court system.
Their lawyer Nikolai Polozov said: "We see that the rhetoric is changing.

The authorities, in the form of Dmitry Medvedev, have realised that this story has gone way too far."

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  • Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia on Friday, Aug 17, 2012. The women, two of whom have young children, are charged with hooliganism connected to religious hatred but the case is widely seen as a warning that authorities will only tolerate opposition under tightly controlled conditions. T-shirt on right worn by Tolokonnikova is Spanish and translates to "They shall not pass", a slogan often used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

  • Yekaterina Samutsevich, right, a member of feminist punk group Pussy Riot is excorted to a court room in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Security is tight around a Moscow courthouse where three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot are to hear the verdict Friday in a trial that could send them to prison for seven years. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, right, a member of feminist punk group Pussy Riot is escorted to a court room in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Security is tight around the Moscow courthouse where three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot are to hear the verdict Friday in a trial that could send them to prison for seven years. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Feminist punk group Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sits at a glass cage at a court in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Security is tight around the Moscow courthouse where three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot are to hear the verdict Friday in a trial that could send them to prison for seven years. T-shirt on right worn by Tolokonnikova is Spanish and translates to "They shall not pass", a slogan often used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Feminist punk group Pussy Riot member Yekaterina Samutsevich sits inside a glass cage at a court in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Security is tight around a Moscow courthouse where three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot are to hear the verdict Friday in a trial that could send them to prison for seven years. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Feminist punk group Pussy Riot member Maria Alekhina sits inside a glass cage at a court in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Security is tight around a Moscow courthouse where three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot are to hear the verdict Friday in a trial that could send them to prison for seven years. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia on Friday, Aug 17, 2012. The women, two of whom have young children, are charged with hooliganism connected to religious hatred, but the case is widely seen as a warning that authorities will only tolerate opposition under tightly controlled conditions.(AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)

  • Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, from left, Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alekhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia on Friday, Aug 17, 2012. The women, two of whom have young children, are charged with hooliganism connected to religious hatred. But the case is widely seen as a warning that authorities will tolerate opposition only under tightly controlled conditions.T-shirt on right worn by Tolokonnikova is Spanish and translates to "They shall not pass", a slogan often used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy.(AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)

  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, right, Yekaterina Samutsevich, left, and Maria Alekhina, center, members of feminist punk group Pussy Riot seen behind a glass wall at a court in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. The three members who were jailed in March following a guerrilla performance denouncing President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral, and they now face a maximum seven years in jail. T-shirt on right worn by Tolokonnikova is Spanish and translates to "They shall not pass", a slogan often used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, right, Yekaterina Samutsevich, left, and Maria Alekhina, center, members of feminist punk group Pussy Riot seen behind a glass wall at a court in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012.

  • Feminist punk group Pussy Riot members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, right, Maria Alekhina, center, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, sit in a glass cage at a court room in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. The three women in the band have been in jail for more than five months because of a prank they carried out in Moscow's main cathedral in a demonstration against Russia's Vladimir Putin, and they now face a maximum seven years in jail. T-shirt on right worn by Tolokonnikova is Spanish and translates to "They shall not pass", a slogan often used to express determination to defend a position against an enemy. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)

  • Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of female Russian punk band Pussy Riot, stands inside defendands cage in a Moscow court, on April 19, 2012, during the hearings on the Pussy Riot case. Three members of the all-woman punk band 'Pussy Riot' were detained two months ago, after they climbed on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral -- the country's central place of worship -- and sang a song they called a 'Punk Prayer'. The women have been charged with hooliganism committed by an organised group -- an unusually harsh charge for protesters. (Photo credit: ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Members of the all-girl punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L), Maria Alyokhina (R) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (C), sit behind bars during a court hearing in Moscow on July 30, 2012. In February, five women walked silently into Moscow's Church of Christ the Saviour before clambering over railings, pulling on balaclavas and yelling out a protest song against Vladimir Putin. The 'punk prayer' by the all-woman group Pussy Riot lasted around a minute. Three women arrested in March over the incident face up to seven years in a prison colony after being charged with hooliganism and have already spent four months awaiting trial . (Photo credit: ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Members of the all-girl punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L), Maria Alyokhina (R) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (C), sit behind bars during a court hearing in Moscow on July 30, 2012. In February, five women walked silently into Moscow's Church of Christ the Saviour before clambering over railings, pulling on balaclavas and yelling out a protest song against Vladimir Putin. The 'punk prayer' by the all-woman group Pussy Riot lasted around a minute. Three women arrested in March over the incident face up to seven years in a prison colony after being charged with hooliganism and have already spent four months awaiting trial . (Photo credit: ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Members of the all-girl punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (L), Maria Alyokhina (R) and Yekaterina Samutsevich (C), sit behind bars during a court hearing in Moscow on July 23, 2012. Three members of the all-woman punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were detained, after they climbed on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral on February 21, 2012 - the country's central place of worship - and sang a song they called a 'Punk Prayer'. The women have been charged with hooliganism committed by an organised group - an unusually harsh charge for protesters. (Photo credit: ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A Police officer escorts a member of female punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova during a court hearing in Moscow on July 20, 2012. Three members of the all-woman punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich were detained, after they climbed on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral on February 21, 2012 - the country's central place of worship - and sang a song they called a 'Punk Prayer'. The women have been charged with hooliganism committed by an organised group - an unusually harsh charge for protesters. (Photo credit: ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • One of the few supporters of female Russian punk band Pussy Riot rally outside a Moscow court, on July 9, 2012, to support the musicians during the hearings on the Pussy Riot case. Three members of the all-woman punk band 'Pussy Riot' were detained, after wearing masks they climbed on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral - the country's central place of worship - and sang a song they called a 'Punk Prayer'. The women have been charged with hooliganism committed by an organised group - an unusually harsh charge for protesters. (Photo credit: ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Supporters of female Russian punk band Pussy Riot, who were detained outside a Moscow court during the hearings on the Pussy Riot case, on July 4, 2012, wave from window of a police bus. Three members of the all-woman punk band 'Pussy Riot' were detained, after they climbed on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral - the country's central place of worship - and sang a song they called a 'Punk Prayer'. The women have been charged with hooliganism committed by an organised group - an unusually harsh charge for protesters. (Photo credit: ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/GettyImages)

  • A man writes on a wall dedicated to supporting the detained members of the Russian all-girl punk rock band Pussy Riot on June 18, 2012, in Prague. The members of the radical group climbed on the altar of Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral -- the country's central place of worship -- on February 21 and sang a song they called a 'Punk Prayer' before being seized by guards. The women have been charged with hooliganism committed by an organised group -- an unusually harsh charge for protesters - and face a potential 7 years in prison. (Photo credit: MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/GettyImages)