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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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Andrew February 19 2014 at 2:37 PM

lol....homie dont play that!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
rob12p February 19 2014 at 1:42 PM

This is Russia - they knew exactly what would happen to them. While it is totally unacceptable in the US this stuff happens in Russia. The dont need to live in Russia they choose to and they choose to continue to protest which may one day lead to something good but in the meantime they are likely to get beaten or killed or improperly jailed.

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1 reply
Crozbezzy rob12p February 19 2014 at 2:22 PM

It may be unacceptable it america, but it still happens.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
wilsonbda February 19 2014 at 4:27 PM

They should have received a more definitively harsh treatment. The group name is so obviously designed to generate media attention that it's offensive on that basis alone. If you want to dance with the boys you'd best be able to dance with them. The socio-economic backgrounds of these functionally illiterate sociopaths need to be examined closely.

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1 reply
franklinjefferson wilsonbda February 19 2014 at 4:41 PM

It takes a functionally illiterate sociopath to know one, I guess.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Scott Weinberg February 19 2014 at 1:18 PM

That's not very nice. They can't be hurt with those ladies. You can't hit her. It is not acceptable for the behavior. There is no reason to arrested her. Just leave the ladies alone!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
nephurus February 20 2014 at 4:02 AM

That's freedom in Russia. You should see what goes on in other countries. Oh, wait, there are no reporters or people video recording anything, cause it is illegal. Love it when people in America complain about rights for this, freedoms for that, and just take everything for granted, and always want more.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
CREEPER February 19 2014 at 4:30 PM

Beat that P#ssy

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Doug February 19 2014 at 8:51 PM

F....up police!...and country!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
Sweetpea Doug February 19 2014 at 8:58 PM

It's a country of pigs, and any American who agrees with their brutality is no better than they are..

Flag Reply +2 rate up
lasvegasmonica February 19 2014 at 1:17 PM

Thats how **** is done in Russia-any surprise? Be happy we are still free, heading towards this though.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
2 replies
James lasvegasmonica February 19 2014 at 1:21 PM

Dude, we're already there...have you read some of these posts?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
campbell1221 lasvegasmonica February 19 2014 at 1:29 PM

Sure protest here they set the dogs on you or drag you around, or spray you with pepper spray. Yep that's freedom.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
bob February 19 2014 at 4:24 PM

Now if we could only get Bieber to go there

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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