Never much for steering clear of trouble, Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina of the infamous Russian political punk outfit Pussy Riot ran afoul of law enforcement while preparing to debut a new protest song, “Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland,” at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
They were picked up near the Church of the Archangel Michael, perhaps because police feared a sequel to their performance at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior, which landed them in prison for almost two years (they were released in December under a special amnesty program that they brazenly criticized).
Alyokhina noted that they were beaten and bruised despite a lack of resistance, then interrogated without lawyers. But the pair maintained Twitter access, sending updates, as well as some selfies sure to become iconic in the struggle against Russian censorship.
Затолкали силой в автозак pic.twitter.com/VpcGDmyHTZ— Мария Алехина (@MashaAlekhina) February 18, 2014
Мы не сопротивляемся, они бьют pic.twitter.com/8uqkwxbCTJ— Мария Алехина (@MashaAlekhina) February 18, 2014
Внутри автозака pic.twitter.com/rjukMd1PW4— Мария Алехина (@MashaAlekhina) February 18, 2014
Маша Алехина, я и еще одна участница Pussy Riot едем в отдел полиции Блиново за нахождение в Сочи. pic.twitter.com/bj8qpX7gMN— Надя Толокно (@tolokno) February 18, 2014
The two women were taken into custody along with eight others while walking toward the Sochi seaport; some were fellow activists who had been denied spectator passports to attend Olympic events, though authorities cited suspicion of a felony—the hotel where Pussy Riot was staying had apparently been burglarized. Tolokonnikova tweeted, however, that she and Alyokhina had been captured and questioned on the previous two days as well, for seven and ten hours, respectively.
In all three cases, they were eventually released.
“We've been detained like anybody who's made an attempt to criticize authorities during the Olympics,” Tolokonnikova told the Wall Street Journal. Though we’d be hard-pressed to think of someone whose dissent is quite so colorful and courageous.