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Russian security forces attack Pussy Riot members with horsewhips as punk group tries to perform

BY NATALIYA VASILYEVA
ASSOCIATED PRESS

SOCHI, Russia -- Cossack militia attacked the Pussy Riot punk group with horsewhips on Wednesday as the group tried to perform under a sign advertising the Sochi Olympics.

Six group members — five women and one man — donned their signature ski masks and were pulling out a guitar and microphone as at least 10 Cossacks and other security officials moved in. One Cossack appeared to use pepper spray, another whipped several group members while others ripped off their masks and threw the guitar in a garbage can.

Police arrived and questioned witnesses, but no one was arrested.

The Cossacks violently pulled masks from women's heads, beating group member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova with a whip as she lay on the ground.

The incident lasted less than three minutes and one Pussy Riot member, a man wearing a bright yellow tank top, was left with blood on his face, saying he had been pushed to the ground.

Pussy Riot, a performance-art collective involving a loose membership of feminists who edit their actions into music videos, has become an international flashpoint for those who contend Putin's government has exceeded its authority, particularly restricting human and gay rights.

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