Pussy Riot members detained in Sochi; punk band is known for protesting Putin’s policies

Three members of Pussy Riot were detained in downtown Sochi near the Olympic Games on Tuesday as they were planning to film a protest video. They were among nine people swept up by Sochi police altogether, along with well-known environmental activists, and journalists.

Pussy Riot is a feminist punk rock band well known for opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In March 2012 three members were arrested for “hooliganism” after staging a performance in a church and turning it into a video entitled “Punk Prayer – Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!” Two of them spent almost two years in prison before Putin released them just before the Games.

The group was in Sochi with the intention of making another Putin-protest video, this one entitled, “Putin Will Teach You How to Love Your Motherland.”

One of those detained told the Washington Post by cell phone in a police van that they were told they had been picked up because they were witnesses to a theft.

This was the third time Pussy Riot members were detained during the Sochi Games. They were held on Feb. 16 for 10 hours, and on Feb. 17 for seven hours.

The Associated Press reports that the two arrested are Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina.

Sally Jenkins is a sports columnist for The Washington Post.
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