Pussy Riot chased by police in Sochi

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AP Photo/Morry Gash
Russian punk group Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova
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Russian punk group Pussy Riot burst onto the Olympic scene Tuesday when two of its members were picked up by police in host city Sochi — and then ran away defiant down a rain-soaked street a few hours later, shouting and wearing their trademark garish balaclavas.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, along with seven others, were held by police near Sochi’s ferry terminal, a popular area for fans celebrating the Olympics. Police said they were questioned in connection with a theft at their hotel. No charges were filed.

Pussy Riot gained international attention in 2012 after barging into Moscow’s main cathedral and performing a “punk prayer” in which they entreated the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Putin, who was on the verge of returning to the Russian presidency for a third term.

Tolokonnikova and Alekhina were sentenced to two years in prison, but were released in December under an amnesty bill seen as a Kremlin effort to assuage critics of its human-rights record before the Olympics. Both women called for the boycott of the Sochi Games.

Tolokonnikova said Tuesday’s detention followed three days of police harassment. She also said the two band members were detained for several hours the previous two days.

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