Pussy Riot Members Arrested Less Than Two Months After Prison Release

February 18, 2014  ·  Posted by Andrew Mortazavi

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, members of the musical and protest group Pussy Riot, were among a dozen activists and journalists detained for three hours by Russian police in Sochi on Tuesday. Though they were in Sochi to record a protest film called “Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland,” according to other detainees, the group was simply walking down the street at the time of arrest.

Russian authorities say the arrests were part of an investigation into the theft of a handbag at a hotel, an investigation which has since concluded with no charges filed. Tolokonnikova denied involvement, insinuating that the crime was fabricated. 

The pair also accused the police of brutality. According to Reuters:

Alyokhina, 25, said they and others detained with them were questioned without lawyers present, and Tolokonnikova said that police had used violence during questioning inside the police station.

"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!" the 24-year-old said on her Twitter microblog.

The arrests come only two months after Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were released from prison as part of what the Guardian called “a wide-ranging amnesty approved by President Vladimir Putin that was seen as a way to boost Russia's image ahead of the Olympics.” In August 2012, the two had been charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” for staging a Pussy Riot performance critical of Putin and sentenced to two years in prison.

Also arrested in Sochi this week were a transgender Italian politician, who was detained for carrying a rainbow flag that read "Gay is OK,” and David Khakim, an environmentalist protester, among others.  

Reuters →