Pussy Riot members released from detention in Sochi

CBC

2 Pussy Riot members detained in Sochi

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2 Pussy Riot members detained in Sochi

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Two members of the punk rock protest group Pussy Riot were released several hours after they were detained by Russian authorities in the Winter Olympics host city of Sochi.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, whose latest detainment was at a police station earlier Tuesday, came out wearing masks, CBC's Nahlah Ayed said from Sochi.

Tolokonnikova wrote on Twitter during their detention that she and Maria Alyokhina were stopped, accused of a crime and detained while walking in the city's downtown. She said a third member of the loosely organized group also was detained. About 10 people were detained in all.

"We understand that members of the Pussy Riot have actually been beaten and roughed up as they were rounded up and taken in a car, partly by apparently undercover cops," Ayed said, citing witnesses.

The women were held at a police station in Adler, a suburb of Sochi that is home to the Olympic Park. No charges were filed.

"At the moment of detention, we were not conducting any actions, we were walking in Sochi," Tolokonnikova tweeted. "We are in Sochi with the goal of staging a Pussy Riot protest. The song is called Putin Will Teach You To Love The Motherland."

Tolokonnikova also said they were detained for about 10 hours on Sunday.

Tolokonnikova's husband, Pyotr Verzilov, said the band was accused of theft at a local hotel.

Verzilov told CBC's Jian Ghomeshi in Sochi said they had been detained three times over the last several days.

"Obviously they are trying to prevent us from having a comfortable time in Sochi by doing all these constant checkups and detentions," he said.

Verzilov said he and the group members were also detained on Monday. "They were very cautious and careful and we realized that these were just mid- and low-level officers carrying out orders from their superiors — probably coming from high-placed officials in Sochi or in Moscow. Officers on the ground did not have very much information."

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova spent nearly two years in prison after they were convicted of hooliganism for staging a protest in Moscow's largest cathedral in opposition to President Vladimir Putin's government. They were released in December. 

Pussy Riot has become an international flashpoint for those who contend the Putin government has exceeded its authority in dealing with an array of issues, notably human and gay rights.

The women said their protest performance at the cathedral was aimed at raising concern about the close ties between the church and state.

Russia has put severe limitations on protests in Sochi during the Olympics, ordering that any demonstration must get advance approval and be held only in the neighbourhood of Khosta, an area between Adler and downtown Sochi that is unlikely to be visited by outsiders.

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