Pussy Riot-Sochi: Two members of punk collective temporarily detained by Russian police near Olympic Games.

Pussy Riot's Two Most Famous Members Were Detained in Sochi Today Ahead of Planned Protest

Pussy Riot's Two Most Famous Members Were Detained in Sochi Today Ahead of Planned Protest

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The Slatest
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Feb. 18 2014 10:37 AM

Pussy Riot's Two Most Famous Members Say They Were Roughed Up by Sochi Police Today

A members of Russian punk group Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, speaks by her cell phone, as she is escorted to a police car after being detained in the Adler district of Sochi, on February 18, 2014

Photo by Evgeny Feldman/AFP/Getty Images

Two members of Pussy Riot were temporarily taken into police custody today in Sochi ahead of a planned demonstration at the Olympic Games. The official reason they were given for their detainment, the activists say, had to do with an alleged theft at the hotel they were staying at, but the pre-demonstration timing obviously suggests other motives. Here's the Wall Street Journal with more:

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said by telephone from Sochi that she, Maria Alyokhina and other activists had been grabbed off the street by local police while walking through the Black Sea resort Tuesday afternoon. She said they were initially told they were being held in relation to an alleged theft at their hotel but later were informed they were being treated as witnesses and were released after a few hours of questioning.
"We, Maria Alyokhina and the anonymous members of Pussy Riot, came to Sochi to organize a protest and express our political views but at the time of our detention [by the local police] we were just taking a stroll minding our own business when we got picked up by the police and shoved into a police van," Ms. Tolokonnikova said. "We've been detained like anybody who's made an attempt to criticize authorities during the Olympics. Authorities treat local guests and athletes nicely but not those who are attempting to organize a protest."

Tolokonnikova says that today's trip to the police station involved being "dragged across the police office face down" before the questioning began. "Our lawyer came in about 30 or 40 minutes ago, and things became a lot easier after that. We are filing a complaint with the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation over being beaten by the police," she told the Journal by phone.

The pair also took to Twitter early today to document their time in the paddy wagon on the way to the station—and to attract international press coverage in the process:

Tolokonnikova and Alyokina, you may remember, spent nearly two years in prison for their punk-themed protest of Vladimir Putin at Moscow's main cathedral. The pair was released ahead of the Sochi Games under a wide-ranging amnesty bill largely aimed at deflecting international criticism ahead of the games. The two members, meanwhile, have continued their efforts to refocus the spotlight on Putin and Russia's human rights record. Days like today will obviously help that cause.

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