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    Pussy Riot supporters protest outside cathedral

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    ‘Blessed are the merciful’ the message read.

    Around 18 demonstrators mounted the steps of Moscow’s main cathedral and held up black cards with white letters spelling out the phrase.

    But security guards swiftly broke up the protest in support of members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, just days before the verdict in their trial.

    There were scuffles as demonstrators wearing colourful balaclavas like those worn by the band members were dispersed. At least four people were detained by police.

    It is the same church where the trio of women staged a so-called ‘punk prayer’ in February, urging the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Vladimir Putin.

    Prosecutors want the judge to convict them of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentence each to three years behind bars.

    The verdict is due on Friday.