Pussy Riot Members Arrested And Questioned In Sochi

Two members of Pussy Riot were arrested and questioned in Sochi, Russia. Both women, who are associated with a controversial punk band, were detained on Tuesday amid accusations of theft. Authorities identified the suspects as Mariya Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were recently freed after spending nearly two years in a Russian prison. The members of Pussy Riot were arrested and convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.”

Although they were both sentenced to two years in prison, they were released early under a provision in Russia’s new amnesty bill.

Russian officials said the women were suspects in the theft of a purse. A guest, who was staying at a Sochi hotel, reported the theft on Tuesday morning. Authorities said numerous hotel guests were questioned. However, the members of Pussy Riot were arrested when their fans became vocal and disruptive.

Although officials said the procedure was routine, The women contend that they were physically abused during the interrogation.

As reported by CNN, Tolokonnikova’s husband, Petr Verzilov, said his wife and her band mate were “put to the floor and beaten… when they refused to be questioned without the presence of their lawyer… “

Both women were released approximately three hours after their arrest. Tolokonnikova said she and Alyokhina are prepared to file a formal complaint with the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.

Russian officials said the arrest was not connected to their prior record. In an official statement, the police department said they were simply conducting “a survey in connection with the theft at the Hotel Adler.” The statement confirmed that the investigation is now complete and “there is no claim against those questioned.”

Witnesses said that in addition to the members of Pussy Riot, officials arrested several fans, activists, and journalists, who were in and around the building.

Following their release, Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova have spent a great deal of time in Sochi. Both women have granted interviews to international news organizations about their plight. They said the prison conditions were deplorable and they were often physically and emotionally abused by the guards.

Although both women claim they are still members of Pussy Riot, others disagree. Several of their band mates stated that Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova either left or were forced to leave the group. The rumors are difficult to prove as the members usually cloak their appearance and identity.

The latest Pussy Riot arrest will likely add to the continued controversy. Although authorities have said the questioning was routine, fans believe the women still being persecuted for their beliefs.

[Image via arindambanerjee / Shutterstock.com]