Three members of Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot have been found guilty and convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. Each band member has been sentenced to two years in prison, beginning from the day of their arrest.

Judge Marina Syrova said the actions of the women had “crudely undermined social order”. She added that the crime was a conspiracy driven by hatred of religion and that the court did “not trust” the testimony of the band members because it would be used as an attempt to “evade justice”.

Judge Syrova added that the posting of the video was proof of the band trying to gain publicity by their “hooligan actions”. She also said the women had “deliberately placed themselves against Orthodox believers” and that the “jerking of limbs” during their protest performance was further proof of their hatred towards Christians.

The three women maintain their protest in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the capital’s main Orthodox church, was a political act in protest against the Russian Orthodox Church leader’s support of President Vladimir Putin.

Chris Bryant MP said via Twitter that Pussy Riot’s fate was proof that Putin’s Russia was a “regressive, oppressive kleptocracy”.

This news comes just after Moscow rejected an appeal against a century-long ban on gay pride parades.

The group have been praised around the world for their actions and belief in freedom of speech, political transparency, women’s rights – and LGBT rights. One of their songs contains the lines: “The ghost of freedom is in heaven/Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains.”

The Interfax new agency reported that the court said the band had always been: “Intending to make the planned actions public and ensure that they drew public response, to draw the attention of the public to their illegal actions, and to communicate the expressed disrespect not only to the clergy and people in the church, but also to other citizens who were not present in the church at the time [of the punk prayer], but shared Orthodox traditions.”

Writing for Lesbilicious, Ruth Pearce said: “The fact that Pussy Riot targeted the Orthodox Church in their most recent protest is also of consequence. They did so to highlight the dangerous extent to which the interests of the Church are intertwined with those of the Russian authorities.

“This relationship is manifested in part through officially sanctioned sexism and homophobia. It can be seen in homophobic laws backed by the Church, and in tacit support from the authorities for homophobic violence dished out by religious extremists.”

Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 are now awaiting sentencing.