Pussy Riot pair denounce Games after Sochi arrests

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by euronews (in English)

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Russian protest group Pussy Riot have crashed President Vladimir Putin’s Winter Olympics party – their arrest in the host city Sochi sparking huge media interest.

Band members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and others were freed without charge over allegations of theft from their hotel.

They emerged from the police station in the Adler district of Sochi wearing summer dresses, coloured leggings and their trademark balaclava masks.

“Everybody is deprived of their freedom of speech here. This city is functioning like a closed military base,” Alyokhina told reporters after their release.

“Don’t believe all those who claim there is freedom of speech here. There’s no such thing in general and especially now. Open your eyes!”

The women posted pictures on Twitter of their brief detention, accusing police of rough treatment. They said it was the third time they had been detained in as many days.

Freed from jail in December in a pre-Olympics amnesty, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova had been serving two years for hooliganism with religious hatred for their anti-Putin protest song in Moscow’s main cathedral.

They have since been disowned by other Pussy Riot members, angry that the pair performed in a New York charity concert earlier this month.

The women were in Sochi with supporters to record a musical film called “Putin will teach you to love the motherland.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has staked his reputation on the Sochi Games, hoping they will show the world Russia’s modern face, more than two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union.