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Pussy Riot horse whipped by Russian Cossacks during Sochi performance

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On Feb. 19, members of the punk rock group Pussy Riot were attacked by Russian Cossacks with whips, batons, pepper spray, and fists - just as the band began an impromptu performance about 21 miles away from the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The attack was captured on video.

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Pussy Riot has been on hand in Sochi to protest Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Winter Olympics, which the group has deemed a “political event,” according to the BBC.

Two of the ladies from the group were just released from a Russian gulag in Dec. 2013, after being sentenced for two years behind bars for making disparaging remarks about Putin. On Feb 17, two of the bandmates were arrested in Sochi and detained for about 10 hours on suspicion of theft, but then released.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the bandmates recently freed from prison, said they were detained on Monday "to make a political claim about the Sochi Olympics".

Today, they were beaten by Cossacks who were patrolling the area around Sochi for the Winter Olympics. The incident took place about 21 miles outside of Sochi and ended with no arrests.

Video footage shows one officer striking the first few blows at one of the female band members with his horse whip. Soon afterwards, other officers joined in and started punching and wrestling with the other band members. Also attacked by the Cossacks was a man photographing Pussy Riot during their interrupted performance.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the Pussy Riot ladies recently released from a Russian prison, was one of the bandmates attacked today; and she still remains fiercely critical of Putin’s Olympics.

"Now there is an occupation of this territory, because the city is under total police and security control," Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said on Tuesday.

"We have arrived here on Sunday [and] we are being detained all the time. Even when we were driving our car and walking in the street. So they are looking for any reasons to arrest us."

Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina, tweeted a few pictures of today’s assault by the Cossacks. One image showing a bloodied man with a deep cut over his eye, and another showed Tolokonnikova, and her cracked and bloodied fingertip.

Three members of the group had to be hospitalized for their injuries.

You can see Pussy Riot being attacked by the Russian Cossacks on the accompanying video.

Also see:

Pussy Riot members being released from Russian prison early

Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina freed from Russian penal colony

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