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Pussy Riot's Alyokhina Detained In Siberia Over Call For Sentsov's Release

  • RFE/RL

Two members of the Russian punk protest band Pussy Riot say they have been detained after staging a protest near the remote prison where Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov is incarcerated.

Maria Alyokhina wrote on Twitter on August 7 that she and Olga Borisova were detained outside the prison near the city of Yakutsk, nearly 5,000 kilometers east of Moscow, a day after they hung a banner reading "Free Sentsov" on a bridge nearby.

The "Free Sentsov" banner hung in Yakutsk on August 7
The "Free Sentsov" banner hung in Yakutsk on August 7

The two were taken to a police station and faced a court hearing over charges of holding an unauthorized rally, Alyokhina also said.

Borisova later said on Facebook that they were released after a judge found flaws in the case.

They were taken from the station to court, where they waited for several hours before the judge ruled that the police had incorrectly filled out paperwork and both women were released, Borisova said.

Sentsov is from Crimea, the Ukrainian region that Russia forcibly seized in 2014. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of plotting terrorist attacks in 2015, a charge he and supporters say is groundless and politically motivated punishment for his opposition to the Russian takeover.

Alyokhina and fellow Pussy Riot perfomer Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for a stunt in which band members burst into Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012 and sang a "punk prayer" against then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who was campaigning for his return to the presidency at the time.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were close to the end of their two-year prison sentences when they were freed in December 2013, under an amnesty they dismissed as a propaganda stunt to improve Putin's image ahead of the February 2014 Sochi Olympics.

They have focused largely on fighting for the rights of prisoners since their release.

With reporting by Mediazona and AFP
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