MOSCOW, July 31 - RAPSI. On Monday, Khamovnichesky District Court Judge Marina Syrova refused to resign from the trial of Pussy Riot female punk-group members charged with disorderly conduct in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the court told the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI/

Thus the judge has dismissed the defense attorneys' challenge, who believe that she violates the principle of equality and that she was negatively predisposed towards the defendants from the very start.

The grounds for the challenge are as follows: Judge Syrova refused to let the attorneys meet their clients; she rejected the questions put to the aggrieved parties by the defense; the time schedule of the trial, whereby the young women are woken at 5am to be taken to the courtroom and only taken back at night. This all day schedule means the defendants have no time to prepare for the hearings, says the defense lawyers. Furthermore, it puts a strain on their health.

On February 21, five girls wearing brightly colored balaclavas stormed the altar of downtown Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral to perform an anti-Putin protest song they called "Holy Sh*t."

According to Pussy Riot, the performance was a response to Orthodox Church head Patriarch Kirill's backing of President-elect Vladimir Putin in the run-up to his landslide March 4 election victory. The patriarch called the 12 years of Putin's rule a "miracle of God" in a televised meeting. A video of their performance was posted online and provoked a public outcry.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich have been arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. They face up to seven years in prison.