.

2 Pussy Riot Members Arrested and Released Near Sochi

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina questioned over theft at hotel

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
February 18, 2014 10:55 AM ET

Two members of Pussy Riot recently released from prison were arrested briefly in a town just north of the Olympics on Tuesday, but released the same day. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were among a group that included another anonymous Pussy Riot member taken in for questioning over a theft that took place in the hotel where they were staying, The Associated Press reported. The police did not file any charges against them.

See Photos of Pussy Riot's Trial

"At the moment of detention, we were not conducting any actions, we were walking in Sochi," Tolokonnikova wrote in Russian on Twitter. "We are in Sochi with the goal of staging a Pussy Riot protest. The song is called 'Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland.'"

On Tuesday, the two women had been walking down a street with journalists when 10 plainclothes police officers approached them, according to The Hollywood Reporter. A lawyer representing the women said the police would not specify whether they were held as witnesses or suspects. "They are in total ignorance of what is going on," he told AP. "They were told they were not being detained but being asked in for questioning. But the police are not letting them go."

Tolokonnikova reported that the police had used "force" during their detention, which took place in a ferry terminal 20 miles north of Sochi. Russia has relegated that protests take place in an area called Khosta between the cities of Adler and Sochi; Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were staying at Hotel Adler. Tolokonnikova also said that she and her fellow protester had been detained for 10 hours on Sunday.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina had served nearly all of their two-year prison sentence for hooliganism when Putin released them under an amnesty in December. Since then, the women have been appearing on talk shows to talk about prison reform and at Amnesty International's Bringing Human Rights Home concert in Brooklyn to speak out on behalf of "prisoners of conscience." When Stephen Colbert asked the women why they felt Putin had released them, Tolokonnikova said, "They got fed up with us." 

As Hollywood Reporter notes, an officer at the prison where Tolokonnikova served her sentence, is suing the activist for libel. Yuri Kupriyanov claimed that Tolokonnikova's statement that the officer "rules the prison" was libelous and is demanding 500,000 rubles (roughly $14,000). The hearing is scheduled for Apr. 2.

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