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Russian security forces attack Pussy Riot members

Raw: Russian Security Attacks Pussy Riot Members


SOCHI, Russia (AP) -- Cossack militia attacked the Pussy Riot punk group with horsewhips on Wednesday as the artists - who have feuded with Vladmir Putin's government for years - tried to perform under a sign advertising the Sochi Olympics.

Six group members - five women and one man - donned their signature ski masks and were pulling out a guitar and microphone as at least 10 Cossacks and other security officials moved in. One Cossack appeared to use pepper spray. Another whipped several group members while other Cossacks ripped off their masks and threw the guitar in a garbage can.

Police arrived and questioned witnesses, but no one was arrested.

The Cossacks violently pulled masks from women's heads, beating group member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova with a whip as she lay on the ground.

The incident lasted less than three minutes and one Pussy Riot member, a man wearing a bright yellow tank top, was left with blood on his face, saying he had been pushed to the ground.

Krasnodar region governor Alexander Tkachev, who has been advancing Cossacks' interests for years, promised on Wednesday to conduct a "thorough probe" into the incident and prosecute the attackers. Tkachev said in comments carried by the Interfax news agency that the views of Pussy Riot "are not supported by the majority of people in the region" but stressed the importance of abiding the law.

Pussy Riot, a performance-art collective involving a loose membership of feminists who edit their actions into music videos, has become an international flashpoint for those who contend Putin's government has exceeded its authority, particularly restricting human and gay rights.

The group gained international attention in 2012 after barging into Moscow's main cathedral and performing a "punk prayer" in which they entreated the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Putin, who was on the verge of returning to the Russian presidency for a third term.

Two members of the group, Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, were sentenced to two years in prison, but were released in December under an amnesty bill seen as a Kremlin effort to assuage critics before the Olympics.

Later on Wednesday, Tolokonnikova, Alekhina and two others held another surprise mini-performance in central Sochi, this time next to Olympic rings in front of the City Hall.

Jumping up and down, one playing a plastic guitar, they sang-shouted in Russian: "Putin will teach you how to love the motherland!" A person dressed as one of the Olympic mascots joined them for a moment in an apparent joke.

Police were watching but did not intervene. A few passersby heckled them and yelled at onlookers, saying they should be ashamed to watch.

A few of Pussy Riot's opponents showed up later, one dressed like a chicken and the others with pieces of paper bearing crude sexual slurs against the band.

On Tuesday, Tolokonnikova and Alekhina were briefly detained in Sochi, but not arrested.

The group has called for a boycott of the Sochi Olympics and has insisted that any world leader coming to Sochi would be giving tacit approval of Putin's policies.

The Cossacks have been used since last year as an auxiliary police force to patrol the streets in the Krasnodar province, which includes the Winter Olympic host city. Patrol leader Igor Gulichev compared his forces to the Texas Rangers, an elite law-enforcement body that has power throughout that state.

Cossacks trace their history in Russia back to the 15th century. Serving in the czarist cavalry, they spearheaded imperial Russia's expansion and were often used as border guards. Under communism, they virtually disappeared, but have since resurfaced, particularly in the south.

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tmovingstar February 19 2014 at 1:38 PM

They are not in America, so all of these PC people should stay out of other peoples business.

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1 reply
petey tmovingstar February 19 2014 at 1:42 PM

Sounds like you condone human rights violations. Evidently, you are a Republican as that is the party that most closely resembles Russia's ruling party. I hope you will consider moving to one of those countries so you can be around more like yourself who support these atrocities.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
joshlsmith February 19 2014 at 1:33 PM

Can't tell if political protest or beginning to S&M flick.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Andrew February 19 2014 at 2:37 PM

lol....homie dont play that!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
goodtimes_27 February 19 2014 at 2:39 PM

All those cops need is wings and they would look just like the Flying Monkeys from The Wizard of Oz

Flag Reply +5 rate up
morphiss7 February 19 2014 at 1:32 PM

I think everyone has seen their message - getting a little old. Putin will do what he wants.
After the cameras are off this group may be in big trouble. They seem a bit nuts !

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CREEPER February 19 2014 at 4:30 PM

Beat that P#ssy

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1 reply
sealtheborder11 CREEPER February 19 2014 at 4:32 PM

I think they just need a massage.....Beating is way too harsh.........

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Jim February 19 2014 at 1:30 PM

By my recollection, as Americans we are inclined to be offended anytime someone is beaten, or imprisoned, for expressing a political or religious viewpoint. The only violence I saw came from the police, not from the demonstrators. That, to me, is a reason why that government will one day fall. It may take one, two or six generations, but it will eventually fall. See what happens to Putin's pictures and statues then. I suspect that they will go to the same place that the Russians are hiding all the Lenin, Stalin and other Soviet renditions. I also suspect that Russia needs to be saving up for another wing for that museum.

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msgscot February 19 2014 at 4:29 PM

After spending time in Siberia they instigate something like this and of all places. It seems to me that they just look for trouble.

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1 reply
songmerch msgscot February 19 2014 at 4:36 PM

Yes... the way Martin Luther King and Gandhi looked for trouble.

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xpphil12 February 19 2014 at 6:13 PM

These girls from ***** Riot were whipped mercilessly by the Russians.***** whipped read the headlines in the worlds biggest newspapers.I agree.

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jonunclemarv February 19 2014 at 1:29 PM

Looks like the cops were a bunch of gutless cowards

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1 reply
telvis jonunclemarv February 19 2014 at 1:34 PM

Why is that? They could have shot them.

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