Pussy Riot, the feminist punk rock band three of whose members are being prosecuted by the Russian authorities for singing an anti-Putin song in a Moscow cathedral, said they refused to be intimidated by the government's "brutality and cruelness" because they "had done nothing wrong".
Giving their first video interview to the western media, three other members of the band, who have been in hiding since the arrests, said while it was "scary" knowing that the authorities could come after them too, they had also shown that "Putin is scared of us" and is "afraid of people".
The group members, who go by the nicknames Sparrow, Squirrel and Balaclava, were filmed by the Observer dressed in the balaclavas and colourful dresses that have become a potent symbol of the mass anti-government protests that rocked Russia this spring.
The imprisonment of three Pussy Riot members has gripped Russia, and the trial which starts on Monday and will be lives treamed on the internet - is being seen as one of the biggest tests of Putin's career.
Though the demonstrations have died down, more are scheduled for September and it's thought that the outcome of the trial could have a pivotal effect on what happens next.
The women, arrested for their performance of a "punk prayer" in Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, face up to seven years' imprisonment and have been declared "prisoners of conscience" by Amnesty International.
They have been charged with "hooliganism" in what is seen as a government-ordered crackdown on freedom of expression.
"It's not illegal singing and saying what you think," said Squirrel.
Sparrow, 25, said masking their faces and appearing anonymous meant that "everybody can be Pussy Riot". And even if three of them were imprisoned, more Pussy Rioters would rise. They don't know if the authorities know who they are.
"It's a bit scary but we're sure what we are doing is right," Squirrel said.
Persecution of the three arrested women would not stop them, they insisted.
"You know to stop doing this means to be afraid of something. We just don't want to give up. It's really important to continue."