News / Europe

Russian Police Question Pussy Riot in Sochi

Activists Challenge Russian Authorities at Sochi Olympicsi
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February 19, 2014
Vladimir Putin’s carefully-controlled Winter Olympics are now running into unexpected, unscripted moments from protesters and activists, including members of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot. James Brooke reports from Sochi.
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— 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.

James Brooke

A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors.

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by: Tommy from: USA
February 19, 2014 9:39 AM
As I understand it, people are being brutalized in Russia over their sexual orientation, apparently with either the indifference or the participation of the authorities. Peaceful and perhaps sometimes obnoxious protest is necessary. These are brave women who risk jail. It is a cowardly government that cannot stand for some of its people to sing an occasional protest song, or to love whom they choose (because, baby, they're born that way).


by: Abbie from: Burlington, vt
February 19, 2014 1:21 AM
Olympics should not be 'used' as a forum for protesting. Agree, seems like Pussy Riot wants attention and it's appalling. Even their name is appalling.


by: Mike Kernan from: Pittsburgh, PA
February 18, 2014 4:29 PM
Pussy Riot is getting a pass by the press despite their arrogant and anarchist activities. They actually broke into a church service, and started dancing and shouting obscenities. Of course they got arrested! But because their obscenities were anti-Putin, the Press is treating them like heroes. They disrupted a church service! They are arrogant and have no respect for anything. I don't care if they are anti-Hitler. They deserved the jailing they got. How can you ignore their arrogant tactics, and expect everyone else to be fooled by your one-sided journalism? No responsible civil authorities could allow this sort of behavior to go unpunished. At least, I hope not. You may not like Putin, but the Russian authorities were not wrong when they arrested Pussy Riot protesters.

In Response

by: James Kite
February 19, 2014 3:56 AM
"On February 21, 2012, as part of a protest movement against the re-election of Vladimir Putin, five women from the group entered the Cathedral of Christ the Savior of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. There was no church service in session at the time, and only a few people were in the cathedral"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pussy_Riot#Arrest_and_prosecution

As mentioned above, Pussy Riot did not disrupt a church service, at worse, they were guilty of trespass on private property.

Yes, they were dicks about it, but we are talking about civil disobedience, something the USA views as a required allowance which makes your comment some what odd. Was it disrespectful? Obviously yes, but then if disrespect is a crime, then I think everyone would be in prison.

In Response

by: Paul Gerrard from: Adelaide, Australia
February 19, 2014 1:42 AM
I wonder if Jesus should have been given a couple of years in jail for upsetting the money changers in the temple. Perhaps if he had been jailed at that time history would have been very different.

In Response

by: Alan from: Knysna, South Africa
February 19, 2014 1:33 AM
I absolutely agree with Mike . . .

In Response

by: Devils advocate from: Hell
February 19, 2014 12:41 AM
Then what would you have them do? Schedule a meeting to talk to Putin? You need to realize the corrupt force that is Putin and the kremlin. Russia's law makes it illegal for an individual to be gay, and the law is vague enough that anyone can be arrested by suspicion. Putin is the modern hitler to a much lesser degree. The coverage may be a bit dramatized, but the issues are very real, and pussy riot is garnering real interest in the issues. They've made the world care about the issue. They've done their job.

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