President Vladimir Putin has staked his reputation on the Sochi
Games, hoping they would show the world Russia's modern face more
than two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Both women said on Twitter that police used force and threw them
into a police van. Tolokonnikova said they had been accused of
theft, and Alyokhina later said they were being questioned without
their lawyers present.
"At the time of our detention, we weren't engaged in any protests,
we were walking around Sochi. WE WERE WALKING," Tolokonnikova said
Lawyer Alexander Popkov told reporters gathered outside the police
station in the Adler district of Sochi, that some 30 to 40 officers
had arrested 12-15 people.
He named Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova as among the detainees.
"They have been held over an alleged theft at a hotel," Popkov said.
"They (the authorities) have refused to fully explain the reason for
The women were in Sochi with other members of Pussy Riot to record a
musical film called "Putin will teach you to love the motherland",
The two women were released from prison on December 23 under an
amnesty that Tolokonnikova said was a stunt by Putin to improve
Russia's image before the Olympics. They recently returned to Russia
after a tour through Europe and the United States.
Tolokonnikova, 24, and Alyokhina, 25, had been serving two-year jail
terms for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred after performing
a profanity-laced protest song against Putin in Moscow's main
cathedral in February 2012.
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Western governments said the sentences were disproportionate and
Kremlin critics called the trial part of a clampdown on dissent
during Putin's third presidential term.
Tolokonnikova said she and Alyokhina had also been detained for
seven hours on Sunday and for 10 hours on Monday, though their
presence in Sochi had not been advertised. "Now we are riding around
in a police van accused of theft," she wrote.
A lawyer for the women, Irina Khrunova, said police had detained a
large group on a Sochi street including accredited journalists, but
said she did not know why they had been detained.
"In Russia it happens that they just do that," she said when asked
why they had been arrested.
"No one identified concrete charges. Right now, there is a lawyer
there trying to find out."
Tolokonnikova's husband, Pyotr Verzilov, said the group members had
been detained at an office of the Federal Security Service (FSB) on
Monday on the border with the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia,
which borders Sochi.
(Additional reporting by Ian Bateson and Ludmila Danilova in Moscow;
writing by Thomas Grove; editing by Steve Gutterman, Elizabeth Piper
and Ossian Shine)
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