Sochi: Pussy Riot Members Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova Freed

Maria Alyokhina (left) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova
Maria Alyokhina (left) and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova
 AP Photo/Axel Schmidt

MOSCOW – Sochi police have released ex-Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who were detained earlier today and questioned about a robbery.

"Freed!" was posted on the Twitter account of art group Voina, associated with Pussy Riot, along with a photo of Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina exiting a police station wearing balaclavas.

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"As a result of releasing Pussy Riot from the police station, the station itself and the surrounding neighborhoods and streets were occupied with people greeting us," Tolokonnikova said on her Twitter account. She added that cameramen, who accompanied the two former punk musicians to Sochi, were beaten up inside the station by officers of the Russian secret service FSB.

Seven other people who were detained alongside Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova, including journalists, have also been released.

Police said no charges would be brought against the two women, who were released last December after serving almost two years for Pussy Riot's anti-Putin performance at Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012.

"The questioning with regards to a robbery at a hotel in Adler has been completed," a spokesman for local police was quoted as saying by the Russian wire service RIA Novosti. "We have nothing against them."

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Meanwhile, Yuri Kupriyanov, an officer at the prison where Tolokonnikova was serving her sentence, is suing the activist for libel, the online newspaper Lenta.ru reported.

According to the report, Kupriyanov claims that Tolokonnikova's statements that he "basically rules the prison" and that he threatened to kill her are libelous and that he is going to demand $14,300 (500,000 rubles). He is also suing Lenta.ru, which published Tolokonnikova's statements. The hearing is scheduled for Apr. 2.

Russian journalist Evgeny Feldman, who was on the scene in Sochi with the band members, says the two women were arrested on suspicion of stealing from a hotel.

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Tolonnikova's husband, Pyotr Verzilov, was quoted by Echo of Moscow radio news as saying that the women had initially been detained by an officer of the Russian Federal Security Border Service, a successor body to the KGB, and that local police then arrived.

The women were taken for questioning to a nearby police station but were told they would be released.

Seven other people were also detained, including Feldman himself, despite showing officers his journalistic credentials.

Echo of Moscow says this is actually not the first time the women have been detained since arriving in Sochi over the weekend. The news outfit reports that they were also detained on Sunday and Monday.

The Pussy Riot pair were in Sochi to perform a song entitled "Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland" and to film a music video, the station reported.

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