Pussy Riot Members Released After Violent Questioning by Police

pussy riot

In what is being called the biggest political disruption of the Sochi Olympics, two women of the Anti-Putin band, Pussy Riot, have been released after being kept for questioning by police at a station near Olympic Park on Tuesday. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina of the punk rock protest band from Moscow were kept by police for questioning regarding a theft that took place in their hotel. Tolokonnikova describes the arrest on her Twitter account saying that the two were walking on the street when a paddy wagon drove up to them and shoved them in the back. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina said they were violently beaten as soon as the they arrived inside for refusing to speak without their lawyer. Tolokonnikova said that after their lawyer came, the police treated them better and the beating stopped, although they are said to be covered in bruises.

After being detained for three hours, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were spotted leaving the police station singing, while wearing their signature bright-colored Pussy Riot masks. They were joined by other anonymous Pussy Riot members, one of which said to the press that activists are treated like terrorists in Russia. It has been confirmed that the Russian government has a sectioned area for protests. The plan was put into place after they decided not to outlaw protests altogether, something the government had been considering for some time. Interestingly though, the activists need a permit to pussy riotprotest and there has not been any evidence of permits being issued yet. Both members of the band have reached out to their Twitter followers saying that they were treated unfairly while in questioning, stating that police violently twisted Tolokonnikova’s arms and threw her to the floor. Alyokhina did not seem to fare better as she was beaten and physically dragged in for questioning. This was not the first time the band has been detained during the Olympics. Both women said they were kept for seven hours on Sunday, then on Monday they were held by security services for 10 hours.

Pussy Riot is known to perform various unauthorised and impromptu shows in unconventional areas all over Russia. The band is composed of about 11 members and their songs are written with themes of LGBT rights, feminism and also anti-Putin messages. Members of the band are certainly not shy about their distaste for Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, calling him a dictator. The president is not too fond of the band either as he has described the members of displaying “disgraceful behaviour” that is degrading to all women. Tensions between Putin and the band were at a peak when both Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were violently arrested by police and kept for a full year after staging a protest against the Russian Orthodox Church and the president inside a Cathedral in Moscow. They were only released in December 2013 after Putin granted them amnesty to ease tensions before hosting the Olympics.

Tolokonnikova has said that the police have been constantly following the women throughout Sochi, while driving and also when taking public transportation. She stated that the police come up with reasons to arrest them and says the two were detained on Sunday without doing anything wrong. In an effort to voice their troubles with Russian authorities, the band members even called a help line and were told that they were on the Russian Security Service’s “wanted list.” The police issued a statement that the two Pussy Riot members were not the only people being detained for questioning on the theft, saying “all those staying at the hotel are being questioned as well.” It still does not explain the unnecessary violence the band members experienced and many are expressing their outrage at the way the band has been treated. Hopefully now that Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina have been released, they will not have any more trouble with authorities. However, if something does not change, it may not be the case.

By Lian Morrison

Sources:

NBC News
The New York Times
USA Today

 

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