Pussy Riot Band Members Detained in Sochi

pussy riot

Two of the most popular members of the anti-Putin protest group Pussy Riot have been detained in Sochi and released, according to the Associated Press.  Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were detained by local police on suspicion of theft from the hotel where they were staying.  Tolokonnikova noted on Twitter that she and Alyokhina were walking on the Sochi streets when they and another Pussy Riot member were detained by the local police force.

Tolokonnikova said the band was in town to stage another anti-Putin protest, which will feature their newest song, Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland.  The band members were detained by plainclothes officers who, according to Tolokonnikova, used some degree of force.  The group’s lawyer said the detained band mates had no idea whether they were being brought in for questioning as suspects or witnesses.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina had been kept in custody for nearly two years prior to the Sochi games due to their role in a punk-themed protest against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at Moscow’s largest cathedral.  They had been released in a wide-ranging amnesty bill that had been enacted in an effort to reduce international criticism against the country.  “Tank”, a bandmate who was with the group at the time, said Pussy Riot members had been with a group of journalists when they were detained in Sochi.

In all, nine people were detained, and according to Tolokonnikova, the plainclothes officers had dragged them across the road during the efforts to bring the group in for questioning.  It wasn’t until much later into the 10-hour process, according to reports, that they learned that they were being questioned as witnesses.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina had apparently been kicked out of Pussy Riot last month following a trip to New York City, but it’s unknown whether the pair continue to be members of the group at this point.  Plans to record Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland during a protest continue, and the duo participated in an Amnesty International concert in the US and Germany recently as well.

In the lead up to the Olympics, Russia cracked down on the possibility of protests, saying that protests could only be held in Khosta, a neighborhood between Adler, where the Pussy Riot band members had been detained, and Sochi that would see very few outsiders.  The duo are determined to keep the focus on Putin and Russia’s human rights record as a whole, and are intent on continuing with any protests they have planned.

When Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report asked the Pussy Riot band members why they had been detained, Tolokonnikova said that the police were tired of dealing with them.  The police did not file any charges, and when the ladies were released, they came out singing and wearing ski masks.  Tolokonnikova’s husband Petr Verzilov said that the group had been beaten when they refused to answer questions without a lawyer, but the violence they received – a report corroborated by Russian media – seems to have done little to kill the group’s spirit, particularly since they are continuing to keep their focus on protesting against Putin’s record.

By Christina St-Jean

Sources:

ABC News

CNN

Newsweek

Rolling Stone

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