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Russian Police Question Pussy Riot in Sochi

  • James Brooke

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s carefully controlled Winter Olympics are now running into unexpected, unscripted moments from protesters.

On Tuesday, sporting their colorful red, pink and yellow balaclavas, members of Russia’s most colorful protest group, Pussy Riot, walked out of a police station in Sochi and sang their latest anti-Putin song, named "Putin Will Teach You to Love Your Motherland."

Band member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova tweeted from a police van that she and her friends have been detained three times in three days, without even staging a protest.

Her tweets drew journalists who were here for the Winter Olympics. Two of Pussy Riot's members became international celebrities after they were released from a Russian jail in December. Two weeks ago, at an Amnesty International Concert in New York they were introduced by the American singer, Madonna.

She said, "It is my privilege and my honor, Ladies and Gentlemen, to introduce Masha and Nadya from Pussy Riot. Ladies, please come to the stage. There they are. Can I get a 'Hell yeah!'? Can I get a 'Hell yeah!'?"

Then the Russian protesters began chanting "Russia will be free!"

The Pussy Riot women are not the only protesters in Sochi. A Russian environmentalist is on a hunger strike. And an Italian gay activist, Vladimir Luxuria, has been detained twice. She spoke Monday to reporters inside the Olympic Park.

He said, "If I stop wearing the colors of the rainbow, just because somebody took away a flag from me, that means that these people win. And I don't want to be guided in my life by fear, I want to be guided in my life by courage, the courage that I always had in my life."

Human rights activists fear that when the Olympics are over, the Kremlin will take off the kid gloves, said Salil Shety, secretary general of Amnesty International, two weeks ago in New York.

"We are very worried about what is going to happen after Sochi, once the cameras go off. So, we really need Pussy Riots and all the artists here to keep the pressure on the Russian government," Shetty said.

The Olympics close this Sunday night. And on Monday, thousands of foreign journalists start flying out of Russia.

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