World News

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Pussy Riot held to 'halt protests'

Roland Oliphant, Moscow

Published 19/02/2014|02:30

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Five women wearing balaclavas, two of whom are members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot, being released from a police station in Adler, Russia
Five women wearing balaclavas, two of whom are members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot, being released from a police station in Adler, Russia
Masked members of Pussy Riot leave a police station in Adler during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 18, 2014. Pussy Riot protest band members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were released from police custody on Tuesday, Tolokonnikova's husband said hours after they were detained in Sochi, where Russia is holding the 2014 Winter Olympics. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov (RUSSIA - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS CRIME LAW POLITICS ENTERTAINMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Masked members of Pussy Riot leave a police station in Adler during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 18, 2014. Pussy Riot protest band members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were released from police custody on Tuesday, Tolokonnikova's husband said hours after they were detained in Sochi, where Russia is holding the 2014 Winter Olympics. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov (RUSSIA - Tags: SPORT OLYMPICS CRIME LAW POLITICS ENTERTAINMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Russian punk group Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, in the blue balaclava, and Maria Alekhina, in the pink balaclava, make their way through a crowd after they were released from a police station, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Adler, Russia. No charges were filed against Tolokonnikova and Alekhina along with the three others who were detained. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Russian punk group Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, in the blue balaclava, and Maria Alekhina, in the pink balaclava, make their way through a crowd after they were released from a police station, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Adler, Russia. No charges were filed against Tolokonnikova and Alekhina along with the three others who were detained. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Russian police detained at least nine people for two days in central Sochi, including three members of the Pussy Riot punk collective, in an apparent attempt to forestall a potentially embarrassing protest action.

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Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, along with a third, unnamed, band member, were detained and charged with theft after arriving in the Olympic city to perform a new song, Ms Tolokonnikova said.

"We were arrested on the 16th at 7am, on the 17th we spent 10 hours with the (internal security service) FSB, and today we are in a paddy wagon charged with theft," Ms Tolokonnikova posted on her Twitter feed yesterday when the Pussy Riot members were released along with a journalist other several activists.

The group arrived in Sochi several days ago hoping to perform a new song called 'Putin will teach you to love the motherland'. "It is devoted to the victims of the Bolotnaya case, Yevgenny Vitishko, Olympic corruption, and the suppression of freedom in Russia," said Ms Tolokonnikova.

The Bolotnaya case refers to several people facing prison sentences for inciting disorder at an anti-government rally in Moscow in May 2012.

Yevgenny Vitishko is a local environmental activist who was sentenced to three years hard labour last week for vandalising the fence of a property he said was illegally built as a residence for the regional governor in protected woodland.

Others detainees included Semyon Simonov, a Sochi native who runs a help centre for migrant workers that exposed systematic abuses by building contractors during the run-up to the Winter Olympics.

Police confirmed yesterday afternoon that Ms Tolokonnikova and Ms Alyokhina had been detained for theft reported by their hotel.

Amnesty international called the arrests, "outrageous" arrests, and called on the International Olympic Committee to condemn the detentions. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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