Pussy Riot members detained by police in Sochi

Pussy Riot members detained by police in Sochi
Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina being taken by police for questioning in Sochi, photographed by fellow detainee Nadia Tolokonnikova

18 February 2014
Text Jamie Rann

Nadia Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, the two members of activist group Pussy Riot who served jail sentences for their anti-Putin protest song, have had another run in with the law, this time in the Olympic town of Sochi.

Police sources insist that the pair, who have recently completed a high-profile media tour of the US, have not been arrested, but only taken in for questioning along with all the other residents at the Malakhit hotel where they were staying. What is more, the charge seems, on the surface, to have little to do with their protests against corruption or political repression: the suspected theft of a purse.

However, Tolokonnikova, who says the pair have been constantly surveilled by security forces in Sochi, has reported the use of excess force during the arrest and said she will be pursuing legal action over violence. “I was dragged with my face on the floor across the whole station, they put me in an armlock and threw me on the floor,” said Tolokonnikova on Twitter. “Putin will teach you to love the motherland,” she added, in reference to a new song written by Pussy Riot to be performed in Sochi. Minutes later she continued, “The most flagrant outrage, even we are shocked. Beating people on the floor in the police station in the Olympic capital.”

Other detainees include journalists critical of the government such as Yevgeny Feldman from Novaya Gazeta. In the past hour a lawyer has arrived at the police station.