Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has called for members of the LGBT-supporting feminist punk band Pussy Riot to be freed.

In August, three members of the group were jailed for two years for staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.

Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich - were found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”.

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

The ruling came in the same month that Moscow rejected an appeal against a century-long ban on gay pride parades.

Mr Medvedev said he was sickened by their actions but said the five months they had spent in pre-trial detention was punishment enough.

AP reports the intervention by Mr Medvedev, who has cultivated the image of a more liberal leader, could allow President Putin to put the controversial case behind him while not appearing weak.

Mr Medvedev, who trained as a lawyer, said he did not want to take the place of the judge, but believed that suspended sentences would have been sufficient for the women.

However, the Guardian reports that Pussy Riot’s supporters have dismissed the prime minister’s statements, noting his long history of appealing to Russia’s more liberal demographic while failing to follow through on delivering results.

The Pussy Riot imprisonment has sparked condemnation in many parts of the world and the case comes up for appeal on 1 October.