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Europe

Pussy Riot members released after being detained in Sochi

© Twitter/Nadzehda Tolokonnikova

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-18

Two members of Pussy Riot were temporarily detained by police on Tuesday along with several others in Sochi, where Russia is staging the Winter Olympics, band members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said on Twitter.

"We have been arrested ... and are accused of robbery," Tolokonnikova tweeted.

"When we were arrested, we were not performing any kind of action, we were just walking around Sochi. WE WERE WALKING," she added.

Tolokonnikova posted photos of herself apparently on the way to a police station on Twitter.

Alyokhina later said they were questioned without their lawyers present.

Tolokonnikova said that she and Alyokhina had been in Sochi for a day to record a musical film called, "Putin will teach you how to love the motherland."

"They dragged me across the floor of the police station assembly hall office by my face, they twisted my arms and threw me to the floor. Putin will teach you to love the motherland!" Alyokhina said on her Twitter feed.

Lawyer Alexander Popkov told reporters gathered outside the police station in Sochi's Adler district that officers had arrested 12-15 people, including Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova, Reuters reported. The news agency said they were held for around three hours.

"They have been held over an alleged theft at a hotel," Popkov said. "They (the authorities) have refused to fully explain the reason for the detention."

Police later said that seven other people were detained in connection with a theft at the hotel where they were staying, all of whom have since been released.

Yevgeny Feldman, a photographer for Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was in Sochi to photograph a demonstration and was detained along with the Pussy Riot members.

Feldman said the group had been walking down a street near the seashore and were a long way from the Olympic Park when they were detained.

Tolokonnikova, 24, and Alyokhina, 25, previously served a two-year jail term for hooliganism motivated by "religious hatred" after performing a profanity-laced protest song against Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral in February 2012.

They have rarely been out of the spotlight since their release on December 23.

They had just returned to Russia after a tour through Europe and the United States. They appeared at an Amnesty International concert which included Madonna in New York, and told a press conference in Berlin on February 10 that they might run in this year’s municipal elections in Moscow.

Putin has staked his reputation on the Sochi Games, hoping they would show the world Russia's modern face more than two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AP)

 

Date created : 2014-02-18

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