Russian punk group Pussy Riot is attacked by Cossack militia as they try to perform under a sign for the Sochi Olympics.
Cossack militia men lashed members of Pussy Riot with whips Wednesday as they attempted to perform a song under a sign advertising the Sochi Olympics. Six members of the feminist collective — five women and one man — were about to perform their protest song “Putin will teach you to love the motherland” about 21 miles from the site of the Winter Games when the 10 Cossacks and other security officials closed in.
One used pepper spray on the punk rockers, another whipped several members while other government thugs ripped off their signature balaclavas and tossed a guitar in the trash. The violence lasted only three minutes. One Pussy Riot member, a man wearing a bright yellow tank top, was left with blood on his face.
Feb. 19, 2014: Members of the punk group Pussy Riot, including Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in the aqua balaclava, center, and Maria Alekhina in the red balaclava, left, perform next to the Olympic rings in Sochi, Russia. (AP)
International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said he found the pictures and videos of the attack on Russian punk band Pussy Riot "very unsettling" but characterized it as a civic issue, not an Olympic one, even though the band performed in front of the Olympic rings in downtown Sochi on Wednesday.
Pussy Riot's video, called "Putin will teach you how to love the motherland", was posted on YouTube and features a song and footage of the band's protests. The band described some of its Sochi experience in the song: "Sochi locked down/the Olympus under surveillance/Of guns and crowds of cops."
For the second time in less than a week, Pussy Riot members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina have been arrested by Russian police.
According to The Voice Project, Tolokonnikova and Alekhina were among 100 people detained outside a Moscow court on Monday. They were protesting the trial of eight opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who themselves were arrested in 2012 following a protest on the eve of Putin’s re-election as President. All eight defendants were found guilty and will serve up to four years in prison.
Six days ago, on February 18th, Tolokonnikova and Alekhina were detained in Sochi. Police held the women for over 10 hours, then over an alleged theft at their hotel. They were ultimately released without charges. However, one day later, on February 19th, they were attacked by Russian police members after performing a protest song in Sochi.
Members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot have been attacked by a gang of men inside a Russian McDonalds. Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina were covered in paint while they sat and had breakfast in the city of Nizhny Novgorod.
They were visiting the area to inspect a local prison with Peter Verzilov and members of NGO 'Zone of the Rights'. Tolonnikova allegedly left the restaurant with a 'cut forehead' and the group have complained to the police.
The men, who were wearing St George ribbons which commemorate the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, used pepper spray and poured rubbish and green antiseptic over them. The women have blamed local police for being involved in the attack. Police said they were investigating the case and refused to comment on the allegations.
Two founding members of the female punk performance-art group Pussy Riot have officially announced their newly established center to defend prisoners' rights. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina told reporters on March 13 that the center will work from within a complex of penal colonies in Russia's Republic of Mordovia.
Punk protest band Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina is detained by police at a protest in central Moscow February 24, 2014.
Tolokonnikova spent most of her two-year sentence for hooliganism in Mordovia's No. 14 penal colony for women. She went on hunger strike several times to highlight "slave labour" conditions. "We have talked a lot about these camps, what the situation is in various areas and we came to the conclusion that Mordovia needs a rights office more than anyone," Alyokhina said in a video posted by local news website Pro Gorod Saransk. "They can beat you or finally beat you to death and no one will know about it... Everything is really bad here and we hope to work on this," she said. "It's important to note that here our activity is strictly to support human rights, added Tolokonnikova.
The director of the centre is a former senior prison service psychologist, Vladimir Rubashny. "People are being turned into cattle, they are forced to become even worse and therefore the re-offending rate is one of the highest in the world," Rubashny said. "I would really like the situation in Mordovia to change although there is a huge amount of work to do." The centre has a hotline number for those who suffered prison abuse or their relatives and offers legal advice.