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Cossacks Attack Members of Pussy Riot with Whips, Filmmaker Says

Image: Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina
Members of the punk group Pussy Riot, including Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in the blue balaclava and Maria Alekhina in the pink balaclava, are attacked by Cossack militia in Sochi, Russia, on Wednesday. Morry Gash / AP

SOCHI, Russia — Russian Cossacks used whips and pepper spray Wednesday to attack members of Pussy Riot, the protest punk band opposed to President Vladimir Putin, a filmmaker traveling with the band said.

The filmmaker, Simon Ostrovsky, said on Twitter that members of the band were putting on their trademark colorful balaclavas, getting ready to do a song in downtown Sochi, when they were jumped.

The Associated Press reported that police arrived and questioned witnesses but made no arrests. One male member of the band was left bloodied after the attack by the Cossacks, militia sometimes used by Russian authorities to patrol streets, the AP said.

On Tuesday, police in Sochi detained two members of Pussy Riot for several hours to question them about a theft at their hotel. They were released and left a police station singing and raising their fists.

Those same two members of the band were jailed for more than a year after they staged a protest against Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church inside a Moscow cathedral. Putin granted them amnesty in December, removing a point of tension with the West.

After the two women were detained Tuesday, Pussy Riot vowed to continue staging protests during the Winter Olympics, which go on through Sunday here.

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