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Pussy Riot assailant 'held accountable'

Russian deputy PM says Cossack who horsewhipped band members at Sochi protest dealt with, but gives no further details.

Last updated: 23 Feb 2014 05:20
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Cossacks virtually disappeared under communism, but have since resurfaced, particularly in the south [AP]

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak has said a Cossack who horsewhipped members of Pussy Riot at a protest in Sochi has been held accountable for the attack.

The Cossacks have been used since last year as an auxiliary police force to patrol the streets in the Krasnodar province, which includes the Winter Olympic host city.

The punk group spent five days in the city this week, filming footage for its new video criticising President Vladimir Putin and the Sochi Olympics.

Minutes after the group started to perform a song there on Wednesday, one Cossack began lashing band members with his whip.

Asked about the band's treatment in Sochi, Kozak would not specifically say what action was taken against the attacker. Local media reported on Friday that he was fined, but they did not identify him.

Kozak insisted the women "came here with the purpose of provoking a conflict," adding that the "conflict" they had was with "local residents," the AP news agency reported.

Suicide bombings

Russia has mounted a massive security operation for the Olympics, deploying more than 50,000 police and soldiers following two suicide bomb attacks in Volgograd.

A group in the Russian province of Dagestan claimed responsibility for the back-to-back  bombings that killed 34 people in the city in late December and threatened attacks on the games.

Kozak said on Saturday that Russian officials worried about security, but just as any government in any country would no matter if it is holding the Olympics or any other major public event.

Kozak lauded the work of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies at the Sochi Games, which so far have been uneventful regarding security.

"We were confident that our law enforcement agencies would be up to the task, and they did brilliantly," he said.

Cossacks trace their history in Russia back to the 15th century. Serving in the czarist cavalry, they spearheaded imperial Russia's expansion and were often used as border guards.

Under communism, they virtually disappeared, but have since resurfaced, particularly in the south.

They are now recognised as an ethnic group, but it is largely a self-identification by those who consider themselves descendants of the czarist-era horsemen.

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