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Pussy Riot Members Attacked Performing in Sochi

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On Wednesday, members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot were beaten publicly by Cossack police while trying to perform outside the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Just a day earlier, recently expelled members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were detained for hours upon arriving in the city for suspected theft. The pair, along with several other Pussy Rioters, came to Sochi planning to perform a public concert and record their new protest song “Putin Will Teach You How to Love the Motherland.”

The incident unfolded in less than three minutes. Six performers (five women and one man) gathered at an outdoor plaza in Sochi 20 miles outside of the Olympic Park and attempted to perform a protest action in their signature balaclava masks. Cossack police quickly interrupted the group, beating them with whips, violently unmasking them, and attacking them with pepper spray. The entire incident was captured in an Associated Press video, and has been widely shared in the past several hours by major media outlets.

The Washington Post, in its coverage this morning, gave a brief explanation about the presence and authority of the Cossack police — a socially conservative volunteer militia that supports the Russian Orthodox Church — who are in Sochi as a supplementary police force providing extra security for the Olympic Games.

Tolokonnikova and Alyohina were recently released after serving two years in prison for hooliganism charges related to their 2012 “Punk Prayer” performance in a Moscow church. Just last week, the pair (formally expelled by fellow members) was in Brooklyn to perform at an Amnesty International concert at the Barclay’s Center alongside Madonna, following Tolokonnikova’s public call for a boycott of the Olympics last December.

After the incident in Sochi, the members took to Twitter with images of their injuries and sought medical help at a local hospital. The IOC’s spokesman Mark Adams responded to the protest in a press conference, but refused to admit that the protest related to the Olympic Games, brushing it off as a local event.

— Alanna Martinez (@lanna_martinez)

(Photo via Associated Press)

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Comments

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