U.S. State Department Issues Concern Over Russia Surrounding Arrest of Pussy Riot Members

By Courtney E. Smith

International attention has stayed focused on Russia after the closing ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics as the result of the Bolotnaya trails.

A Russian court found eight protesters, out of hundreds detained or arrested, guilty of attacking police and inciting mass riots on the eve of President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration in 2012, dealing out seven prison terms of varying lengths and one suspended sentence.

The U.S. State Department issued an official statement of concern, calling it a “politically-motivated trial that points to serious concerns about due process and rule of law in Russia.”

Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina, fluid members of the musical and feminist collective Pussy Riot, were among many arrested today (Feb. 24) for protesting the verdict outside of a Russian court, according to the Voice Project. Amnesty International called the arrests “arbitrary” and “rampant violation of freedom of expression and assembly” while the Washington Post reports that people who weren’t involved in the protest seemed to be plucked from the streets by police for no reason.

This makes for the duo’s second arrest in Russia in a week. Earlier the two were detained in Sochi after being suspected of theft in their hotel, but were dismissed with no charges filed. The ladies were in Sochi meeting with journalists.

“They were put to the floor and beaten and physical force was used to them when they refused to be questioned without the presence of their lawyer, who was on his way to the police department,” Tolokonnikova’s husband, Petr Verzilov, told reporters.

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