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Pussy Riot members released in Sochi by Russian police

Two members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been released in Sochi. The pair had been apparently arrested on charges of theft.

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Pussy Riot members arrested in Sochi

Two members of Pussy Riot arrested earlier Tuesday in Sochi have been released.

Earlier Tuesday, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (right in photo) had written on her Twitter account that "we have been arrested ... and are accused of robbery,"

"When we were arrested, we were not performing any kind of action - we were just walking around Sochi," she added.

Her bandmate Maria Alyokhina (left in photo) confirmed that she had also been arrested. The two were detained in central Sochi, some 30 kilometers (18.64 miles) from the main venues where the Olympic Games are currently taking place.

According to Tolokonnikova, another unnamed member of Pussy Riot was also arrested. Both women said on Twitter that police had used force to throw them into a van.

Previous questionings

Tolokonnikova said she and Alyokhina had been already held and questioned by police for seven hours on Sunday and 10 hours on Monday.

The detentions are the first times that Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina have been held by police since they were released on amnesty in December. The two were sentenced to two years in prison in 2012 on hooliganism charges for performing a song opposing President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's most prominent cathedral.

Their convictions were condemned by human rights activists throughout the world.

Tolokonnikova said she and Alyokhina had been in Sochi for over a day before the arrests took place, aiming to perform a new song titled "Putin Will Teach You how to Love the Motherland."

'Ludicrous detention'

Lawyer Alexander Popkov told reporters outside the police station in the Adler district of Sochi, where the women are being held, that 12-15 people had been arrested.

"They have been held over an alleged theft at a hotel," Popkov said, adding that full explanations for the arrests had not been given.

Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch in Moscow said that the "ludicrous detention ... will earn Russia more negative publicity than any public action they could organize."

The Sochi Winter Olympics are widely seen as an attempt by Putin to counter frequent portrayals abroad of Russia as a backwards country where human rights are little respected.

tj/mkg (AFP, AP)

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