Pussy Riot members attacked with whips by Cossack militia in Sochi

Members including Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina attacked while trying to perform

Pussy Riot members attacked with whips by Cossack militia in Sochi

Photo: Getty

Members of Pussy Riot were attacked with whips by Cossack militia in Sochi earlier today (February 19), according to reports.

The Guardian says that various members of the punk protest group, including Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were attacked by both uniformed Cossacks and security men as they attempted to perform in the Russian city, where the Winter Olympics are currently taking place.

Reports say that Pussy Riot members were set upon by approximately a dozen Cossacks, who ripped off their masks and threw the group's guitar away. It is also alleged that one of the Cossacks used pepper spray. The altercation is said to have lasted several minutes and left one Pussy Riot member with a bloodied face, but the police did not make any arrests once they arrived.

Yesterday (February 18), Tolokonnikova revealed that she and Alyokhina had been arrested in Sochi and were being detained in the centre of the town. "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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