"The repressions will only strengthen with time and this will lead us to where Egypt, Libya and now Syria are," said Nikolai Polozov, a lawyer for the three women.
During a nine-day trial marked by procedural violations and absurd lines of questioning, the prosecution argued that the women's performance inside the cathedral was not political, but an attempt to offend all of Russian Orthodoxy. The women, in powerful closing statements delivered last week, argued that they sought to highlight the destructively close ties between church and state as part of the greater anti-Putin message that drives all their performances.
The trial has revived passions inside Russia against Putin's return to the presidency, with critics comparing the campaign against Pussy Riot to a Stalinist witch hunt. The Russian opposition has called on supporters to gather in front of the courthouse in balaclavas on Friday at 2 p.m. (11 a.m. GMT), one hour before the verdict is due to be delivered.
"No matter what we hope for, we are looking at this situation realistically. Considering how trials happen in Russia, we think it will probably be a guilty verdict with a serious sentence in a penal colony," said Polozov.
Artists around the world have seized upon the case. Actors at the Royal Court in London will stage readings of the women's closing statements on Friday, and in New York actors, including Chloe Sevigny, will conduct a reading on Thursday.
Madonna, Bjork, Franz Ferdinand the Red Hot Chili Peppers are among those who have performed in support of the group.
Dozens of cities have joined the call of Pussy Riot's supporters to conduct a Global Pussy Riot Day on Friday, with protests planned from Barcelona to Vienna.
Not all protest attempts have been successful. Amnesty International said the Russian embassy in Washington, DC thwarted its attempt on Tuesday to deliver a petition with 70,000 signatures calling for the women's release. An embassy employee "not only rejected Amnesty International's pleas to take our concerns to Moscow, he unceremoniously dumped the petitions on the pavement," the group said in a statement. "If this and other actions taken by Russian authorities are any indication, Putin's vision for the country is a complete breakdown of a free and just society."
Amnesty International has declared the three women prisoners of conscience.
The Russian opposition has called for a day-long protest on Sunday to commemorate those who lost their lives defending the Russian White House during a 1991 coup attempt. The event will seek to capitalize on the growing anger against the Putin government's handling of Pussy Riot.
Intellpuke: You can read this article by Guardian Russian Correspondent Miriam Elder, reporting from Moscow, Russia, in context here: www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/aug/15/pussy-riot-supporters-detained-protest