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Members of Pussy Riot beaten and pepper-sprayed by Cossack police in Sochi

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It's been a very interesting February in Russia, probably more than Vladimir Putin would have hoped for. As the entire world descends on Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Putin is finding a very bright light shining on some of his country's darker corners. While some have complained about the terrible conditions in Sochi itself - from the crap construction of the venues to the ill-fitting weather conditions - it's Russia's less popular doctrines (you know the ones I'm talking about) that have been put front and center.

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And who else would be right there on the front lines in Russia, but the country's very own punk patriots, Pussy Riot? Mere days after band members Nadezhda "Nadia" Tolokonnikova and Maria "Masha" Alyokhina were briefly detained under suspicion of theft at a Russian hotel, shocking footage has emerged of the women and some fellow protesters being pepper-sprayed and beaten with whips by Russian Cossacks.

Apparently, three members of the group and a handful of compatriots gathered in Sochi to shoot a video for their newest song "Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland." I'm assuming that title is ironic …

At any rate, the small collection of social activists invited the ire of Russian Cossacks, who are inexplicably working security at Sochi. The violent clash was captured on film, as the Cossacks move to surround the members of Pussy Riot, ripping off their trademark baclavas, swinging whips at them, throwing them to the ground, and generally expressing their aggravation with advocates of free speech.

Cossacks have a long and conflicted history with the Russian empire, which you can find explained in detail in this article from CNN. A wild oversimplification would charge them as the enforcer's of old Russia (of which Vladimir Putin is totally a part). They're like evil mounties. Or Tea Party members who can use brute force. If Putin is Darth Vader, they're the stormtroopers. In short, they're old, they're tough, and they don't care for the ruckus these youngsters are stirring up.

Photos of the aftermath of the attack show bloodied faces, broken fingernails and one shot of band member Nadia lying in a hospital bed. The attack has already ignited thousands of cries of outrage across the world. And why shouldn't it spark people's ire, especially in America where the freedom to spout stupidity is considered a god given right. You may not agree with Bill O'Reilly or Nancy Pelosi, but their right to stand up in front of a crowd and say dumb stuff is inalienable.

In America.

In Russia, that's not the case, as Pussy Riot's previous two-year incarceration proved. It doesn't even seem as though Russians are terribly upset about the lack of freedom that the rest of the world proclaims they have, either. One poll, taken when Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were initially jailed, indicated that a staggering 95% of the Russian population felt like Pussy Riot committed a punishable crime.

Maybe this is a country that's less concerned with personal freedoms than the rest of the world. Maybe their culture places emphasis on different aspects of daily life, as opposed to being preoccupied with personal liberties. Or, maybe they all just had a Cossack standing behind them with a big whip and a menacing glare.

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