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Updated: Tue, 18 Feb 2014 10:58:55 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Pussy Riot members released from detention in Sochi



Masked members of Pussy Riot leave a police station in Adler during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 18, 2014. Two members of the protest band Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were detained by police on Tuesday while they were walking around Sochi, where Russia is staging the Winter Olympics, they said on Twitter. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters

Masked members of Pussy Riot leave a police station in Adler during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 18, 2014. Two members of the protest band Pussy Riot, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, were detained by police on Tuesday while they were walking around Sochi, where Russia is staging the Winter Olympics, they said on Twitter. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters

Two members of the punk rock protest group Pussy Riot were released several hours after they were detained by Russian authorities in the Winter Olympics host city of Sochi.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, whose latest detainment was at a police station earlier Tuesday, came out wearing colourful facemasks — a signature of the group.

Tolokonnikova said the detention was the latest in a series of harassments against the group since Sunday. She said they had been detained for several hours on the previous two days.

"We members of Pussy Riot have been here since late Sunday and we were constantly detained since then," Tolokonnikova said after her release. "We are constantly surrounded by people, not you journalists, but people who are shadowing us, following our every move and looking for any excuse to detain us."

Tolokonnikova wrote on Twitter during their detention that she and Maria Alyokhina were stopped, accused of a crime and detained while walking in the city's downtown. Seven others who were detained with them were also released.

The women were held at a police station in Adler, a suburb of Sochi that is home to the Olympic Park. No charges were filed.​

"We understand that members of the Pussy Riot have actually been beaten and roughed up as they were rounded up and taken in a car, partly by apparently undercover cops," CBC's Nahlah Ayed said, citing witnesses.

Police said they were being questioned in connection with a theft at the hotel where they were staying.

Tolokonnikova said they had done nothing wrong.

"At the moment of detention, we were not conducting any actions, we were walking in Sochi," she tweeted. "We are in Sochi with the goal of staging a Pussy Riot protest. The song is called Putin Will Teach You To Love The Motherland."

Tolokonnikova's husband, Pyotr Verzilov, said the band was accused of theft at a local hotel.

Verzilov told CBC's Jian Ghomeshi in Sochi said they had been detained three times over the last several days.

"Obviously they are trying to prevent us from having a comfortable time in Sochi by doing all these constant checkups and detentions," he said.

Verzilov said he and the group members were also detained on Monday. "They were very cautious and careful and we realized that these were just mid- and low-level officers carrying out orders from their superiors — probably coming from high-placed officials in Sochi or in Moscow. Officers on the ground did not have very much information."

Russia has put severe limitations on protests in Sochi during the Olympics, ordering that any demonstration must get advance approval and be held only in the neighbourhood of Khosta, an area between Adler and downtown Sochi that is unlikely to be visited by outsiders.

International flashpoint

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova spent nearly two years in prison after they were convicted of hooliganism for staging a protest in Moscow's largest cathedral in opposition to President Vladimir Putin's government. They were released in December. 

Pussy Riot has become an international flashpoint for those who contend the Putin government has exceeded its authority in dealing with an array of issues, notably human and gay rights.

The women said their protest performance at the cathedral was aimed at raising concern about the close ties between the church and state.

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