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Olympics 2014: Pussy Riot attacked by Cossack militia in Sochi

Unrest, Conflicts and WarPussy Riot (music group)2014 Winter OlympicsArcade Fire (music group)

Mere days after police detained them in Sochi, Russia, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Masha Alyokhina and other members of Pussy Riot were attacked by whip-wielding Cossacks in the same city on Wednesday, according to reports.

According to the Guardian and other outlets, members of the punk activist group had assembled in their iconic bright balaclavas in an area about 20 miles from the site of the Winter Olympics. As they prepared to play a new song, "Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland," they were surrounded by plainclothes security officers and uniformed Cossacks, who were enlisted as an informal security force during the Sochi Games.

Cossacks, an equestrian-focused rural Russian culture,  have re-emerged as a symbol of  conservative and militaristic values during Putin's presidency.

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According to reports, the officers and Cossacks then attacked the Pussy Riot members with pepper spray and whips, and destroyed the band's guitar. The brief incident left one Pussy Riot member bloodied, and while photos of the attack  are upsetting, most of the group's members weren't seriously harmed.

Tolokonnikova, who along with  Alyokhina was released from jail in December after serving time for an earlier protest in Moscow, described the incident on Twitter: "Cossacks attacked Pussy Riot by a Sochi 2014 banner, hitting us with whips and spraying us with teargas, as we were singing the song Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland."

Police were called to the scene but did not make any arrests. Krasnodor region Gov. Alexander Tkachev told reporters that he would conduct an investigation into the incident.

Members of Pussy Riot convened later that day in front of Sochi's City Hall to perform the same song. Police witnessed that performance as well but did not intercede, according to reports. 

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Unrest, Conflicts and WarPussy Riot (music group)2014 Winter OlympicsArcade Fire (music group)
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