February 18, 2014 11:14

Pussy Riot members claim to have been arrested in Sochi

Masha Alyokhina and Nadia Tolokonnikova say they have been detained in the resort near Winter Olympics site

Pussy Riot members claim to have been arrested in Sochi

Photo: Getty

Pussy Riot members Masha Alyokhina and Nadia Tolokonnikova have claimed that they have been arrested in Sochi, Russia, where the Winter Olympics are currently taking place.

BBC News reports that Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have made it known that they were arrested in the Russian resort and have been detained in the centre of the town.

Tolokonnikova told the BBC that she and Alyokhina were being detained on suspicion of "theft" and were being held at a police station but have not yet been officially charged. Tolokonnikova explained that the pair had arrived in Sochi on Sunday to perform new song, 'Putin Will Teach You To Love Your Motherland', about "political repression in Russia", during the Games and that they have been under close scrutiny from local authorities since their arrival.

"We were just walking around Sochi when they grabbed us," Tolokonnikova told the Guardian via phone from a police station. "They told us we are suspected of theft. Of course there has been no theft."

Semyon Simonov, a local human rights activist, was also detained along with the group and claims that he, Alyokhina, Tolokonnikova and seven others were picked up on the street by police after they were tipped off by employees of the hotel in which they are staying.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were released from prison in December 2013 after serving a two-year sentence for protesting in a Moscow church.

Earlier this year Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were criticised in an open letter by activists claiming to be members of Pussy Riot for launching human rights group Zona Prava (Justice Zone).

The statement also suggested that Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova have ignored attempts to communicate and expressed frustration with the way the pair were presented at a recent Amnesty International concert in New York.

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