Pussy Riot
Pussy Riot members in glass-walled cage during a court hearing in Moscow (Reuters)

Three Pussy Riot members found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility have been sentenced to two years in prison by a Russian court for performing an anti-Putin protest song in Moscow's Christ the Saviour Cathedral.

Judge Marina Syrova said that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, escaped harsher sentences because of "mitigating circumstances," such as the lack of a criminal record, having children and positive character profiles.

However, their motives meant justice could only be served if the three musicians were sent to prison, said the judge.

He also said that Tolokonnikova had a "mixed personality disorder." One of them "imitated demonic attacks" during the anti-Putin protest, the judge continued.

"The girls took off their outerwear. One of the girls in a white dress grabbed a guitar." The judge said their clothes defied the Russian Orthodox dress code of headscarf and long skirts.

By posting the video on YouTube, the judge argued, the band tried to gain publicity for their hooligan actions and "deliberately placed themselves against Orthodox believers."

"The defendants violated the common rules of behavior in the cathedral."

Pussy Riot "crudely undermined public order and deeply disturbed feelings of Orthodox believers," the judge said.

He also claimed that the band engaged in "homosexual propaganda" and that use of video and cameras was forbidden in Christ the Saviour Cathedral, Russia's holiest church.

Russian chess player and leading opposition figure Garry Kasparov was manhandled and allegedly beaten up by Russian police during protests at the courthouse before the verdict was announced.

The head of Moscow Helsinki Group, a human rights charity, said the guilty verdict was "unjust and politically motivated but expected,"

Pussy Riot: Singers Who Fought the Law and the Law Won [SLIDESHOW]