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February 19, 2014

Cossacks Clash With Pussy Riot Members in Sochi

Cossack paramilitaries have attacked members of the Russian punk rock group Pussy Riot as the band tried to perform in Sochi under a sign promoting the 2014 Games.

Footage shot by A-P Television shows Cossacks using horsewhips and spray against band members and violently pulling ski masks from their heads.

Two of the band members in the footage are Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, both vocal critics of the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Police arrived and questioned witnesses but made no arrests.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were detained by police in Sochi Tuesday. They were released after being questioned about an alleged theft from a hotel. At least six other people arrested with them Tuesday were allowed to go free.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were released in December from a two-year detention for hooliganism after performing an anti-church and anti-government protest song at Moscow's main Russian Orthodox cathedral. Since their release under an amnesty program, they have toured Europe and the United States.