TIME russia

WATCH: Pussy Riot Attacked in Sochi by Cossack Militia

Whip-wielding Cossacks pummeled Pussy Riot members in the Winter Olympics host city after two bandmates were arrested, allegedly for questioning regarding a theft in their hotel and only weeks after they were released from a Russian prison

Pussy Riot, the Russian punk band that promised to take advantage of the world spotlight on the Sochi Olympics to protest Vladimir Putin’s government, has managed to stay in the headlines over the past few days. On Tuesday, band members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were meeting with journalists when they were detained by police, allegedly for questioning about a theft in their hotel. Word of their arrest reverberated throughout social media and the two were later released.

On Wednesday afternoon, several band members were trying to stage a protest performance, but shortly after donning the band members donned their signature ski masks, Cossacks—deployed in the town during the Games—brandished whips and pepper spray to break up the assembly. Video of the incident shows the Cossacks knocking the women to the ground, striking them with thick ropes and pulling off their masks. The band’s attorney told USA Today Sports that three members of the group were hospitalized for injuries.

The group has said they are in Sochi to play a protest song titled, “Putin will teach you to love the motherland.” It is not clear if they plan to try and stage another performance. — Nate Rawlings

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