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Pussy Riot members briefly arrested in Sochi

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhin and several others detained by police as they walked through Olympic host city.

Last updated: 19 Feb 2014 00:20
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Russian police briefly detained and questioned the two most famous members of the punk band Pussy Riot on allegations of theft.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were arrested along with several others in Sochi on Tuesday morning and were set free after four hours in police custody.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina became the public face of the protest band after being sentenced to two years in a penal colony in 2012 for a staging Moscow protest against the Russian government. They were released last year after serving more than half of their sentence.

What kind of idiot do you have to be to arrest Pussy Riot in Sochi during the Olympics? No [PR] agency can help here.

Alexei Navalny, Russian protest leader

Police said the two women and several others were accused of stealing from the hotel where they were staying and were picked up in central Sochi, some 30km north of the main Olympic venues.

"They are trying to detain us so that we don't walk around Sochi. We want to say the truth about what is happening in Sochi," Tolokonnikova told AFP news agency from the police station after being detained.

She accused the police of using force against them and said they would file a complaint.

"They beat us. The fact that they used force is awful. We have bruises and scratches," Tolokonnikova said.

Tolokonnikova also told AFP that she and Alyokhina had already been in Sochi for two days with the aim of performing a new song titled "Putin will teach you how to love the motherland".

She added that they had already managed to stage "some Olympic performances" before their arrest, but did not give any further details.

Third arrest

Tolokonnikova said police already held and questioned her and Alyokhina for seven hours on Sunday and 10 hours on Monday.

Kremlin critics slammed the arrests as a public disaster for the Winger Games, which still have just under a week to go.

"What kind of idiot do you have to be to arrest Pussy Riot in Sochi during the Olympics? No [PR] agency can help here," said Alexei Navalny, a Russian protest leader.

Pussy Riot members free after nearly two years in penal colonies

A third member of Pussy Riot, named only as "Tank", photographer Yevgeny Feldman, local activist David Khakim and Semyon Simonov of the Memorial rights group were also among those arrested.

The two members of Pussy Riot were convicted of hooliganism in 2012 and sentenced to two years in prison after staging their so-called "punk prayer" in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow.

They were released in early December 2013 under a Kremlin-backed amnesty.

All those arrested Tuesday morning have now been released.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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