(NEW YORK) — Two members of the Russian feminist punk group Pussy Riot have fled the country, fearing prosecution for an anti-Putin stunt that has already landed three other women behind bars.
In a message posted to its Twitter account Sunday, the group said the two women had left because they faced “danger.”
In February, members of the group performed what they called a “punk prayer” on the altar of Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, begging for divine intervention to rid Russia of President Vladimir Putin.
Three of them were charged with “hooliganism” and, in a trial that sparked worldwide outrage and support from music icons from Madonna to Paul McCartney, were sentenced earlier this month to two years in prison.
Within days of the verdict, authorities announced they were searching for two other women who were involved in the cathedral stunt.
“Our two participants in connection with the search successfully fled the country,” the group tweeted today. They also defiantly tweeted that they had a dozen members still in Russia and called on feminists around the world to rally.
Rallies in support of the band were held around the world as a verdict in the case against the first three women neared. Artists, including Sting, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Franz Ferdinand used concerts in Moscow to call for Pussy Riot’s release.
A recent poll released by the independent Levada Center found 44 percent of Russians believed the trial was objective, while only 18 percent believed the outcome was determined by the powers that be. Another 17 percent were doubtful of the trial’s objectivity.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Samantha Beech, CNN
Joe Sterling and Darran Simon, CNN
Eliza Mackintosh, CNN