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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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Lenny February 19 2014 at 12:39 PM

Same stuff that the Russians have been doing for years. The country is an embarrassment unto itself. Putin is a goon and runs the country as a dictator. No one should be surprised this went on. Only now, unlike how Russians killed Jews in the early part of the last century it is seen by the rest of the world thanks to social media. Problem is, the rest of the world as usual does not care. It will not change soon.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Larry February 19 2014 at 12:46 PM

Obama is raising his level of reaction to dissent. The IRS & NSA didn't supress people enough.

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JOSEPH R GRECO February 19 2014 at 12:41 PM

The name of the band says all you need to know!!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
Dear MoonWolf JOSEPH R GRECO February 19 2014 at 12:44 PM

Yes. It says, "We're BRAVE. You're A-HOLES. And we're not going to take your CRAP, Pooty Poot, with the 'I constantly have to prove my manhood' complex."

Flag Reply +1 rate up
pms22275 February 19 2014 at 12:46 PM

Yep and soon as one of these mask wearers turn out to be a terrorist and something bad happens all the world will be yelling they didn't protect the visitors

Flag Reply +4 rate up
pamei7 February 19 2014 at 12:45 PM

look folks we know they cant sing but thats no way to stop them

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1 reply
douttfire pamei7 February 19 2014 at 1:17 PM

The U.S.A. has several crappy bands and we don't horsewhip them...

Flag Reply 0 rate up
slawoskyfour February 19 2014 at 12:34 PM

Too bad........Youre in Russia.......what the hell did you expect? Hugs and Kisses?!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
luke_karas February 19 2014 at 12:47 PM

*Poland watches and LULS*

It's nice to see communist-decrepid-Rome burning. Freedom/righteous people get rewarded the highest in the end. Karma's a betch.

We got our gold medals In Sochi just in time, now let's wait for the Olympics to end, and see Putin's true colors. Ukraine will most likely get invaded by Russian forces.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
KING JOHN February 19 2014 at 12:28 PM

i guess they should not being that stuff in that country

Flag Reply +1 rate up
mdapache6 February 19 2014 at 12:40 PM

Dirty hippies...

Flag Reply +2 rate up
murfneedham February 19 2014 at 12:42 PM

Authoritarian regimes don't tolerate dissent well and don't give a hoot about human rights or due process. Is anyone surprised by this incident? I am surprised that they did not confiscate the video.

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