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2 Members of Russian Punk Band Pussy Riot Detained

  • Associated Press

FILE - Punk protest band Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina is detained by police at a protest in central Moscow February 24, 2014.

Two members of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot were briefly detained Monday after rallying for the release of a Ukrainian filmmaker outside his Siberian prison.

During Sunday's protest in Yakutsk where Oleg Sentsov is serving his sentence, the band members unfurled a banner on a nearby bridge that read "Free Sentsov!"

Longtime Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina tweeted that she and Olga Borisova were taken to a police station following their detention earlier in the day and faced a court hearing over charges of holding an unauthorized rally.

Borisova later said on Facebook that she and Alyokhina were released after a judge found flaws in the case. It was unclear if the police would refile charges.

A Russian military court convicted Sentsov, who comes from the Crimean Peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, of conspiracy to commit terror attacks and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

Sentsov, who made two short movies and the 2012 feature film "Gamer," denied the charges, which he and his supporters denounced as political punishment for his opposition to Crimea's annexation.

The U.S. and the EU have criticized his conviction and called for his release, and numerous cultural figures in Russia and abroad have urged the Russian government to free him.

Pussy Riot is a loose collective and most of its members perform anonymously. The balaclava-clad women rose to prominence with their daring outdoor performances critical of President Vladimir Putin and Russia's ruling elite.

An impromptu "punk prayer" at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior that derided the ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin got them into trouble in 2012.

Three band members were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for the stunt. Alyokhina and another member, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, spent nearly two years in prison.

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