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UPDATE: Pussy Riot Say Two Members Who 'Disappeared' in Crimea After Russian Security Detained Them Have Been Found

Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot
Tim P. Whitby/Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

Maria Alyokhina and Pyotr Verzilov of Pussy Riot make a protest performance as part of the  exhibition 'Art Riot' at the Saatchi Gallery on Nov. 15, 2017, in London.

UPDATE: Just hours after the members were reported missing, Pussy Riot tweeted that Borisova and Sofeev had been found. "They were detained several times but safe now," they wrote. There was no mention of Alyokhina or information on why the women had been taken into custody.

Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot posted an urgent message on Twitter Tuesday morning (Feb. 27) claiming that two of their members have gone missing. According to the tweet, Olya Borisova and Sasha Sofeev "disappeared in Crimea" on Monday (Feb. 26). The alert said that the Russian security agency FSB (the successor to the feared KGB) "detained them several times," adding that on Monday "cops broke their phones and computers."

The group says they have been unable to reach Borisova and Sofeev ever since and they "don't know what has happened to them." A spokesperson for the group confirmed the details of the tweet but said no other information was available at press time.

According to a report on Radio Free Europe three members of the feminist punk collective were detained in the Russia-annexed Crimean region, with Borisova confirming that she and Sofeev were taken into custody on Sunday (Feb. 25) when they arrived in the Ukrainian peninsula; she added that a third member, Maria Alyokhina, was detained on Monday, texting her compatriots to confirm that she was with the police, after which no more communication was received.

A Crimean lawyer, Emil Kurbedinov, told the outlet on Monday that the three were brought to a medical institution for testing, with no further details provided on the reason for their alleged detention. A later RFE report said that Borisova was taken to a police station after the unidentified test, while Alyokhina was released. At press time Russian officials had reportedly not commented on the detentions.

Alyokhina and Borisova were detained and fined in August after they staged a protest near a remote Siberian prison where Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov is imprisoned. The provocative group made their live U.S. debut in December with a show in Los Angeles that included member Nadya Tolokonnikova and three other members entering the stage wearing body bags. 

Pussy Riot is a loose collective whose members often perform anonymously. The balaclava-clad women -- there have been up to 11 participants at times -- rose to prominence in 2011 with their daring outdoor performances critical of President Vladimir Putin and Russia's ruling elite. An impromptu "punk prayer" at Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior that derided the ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin got them into trouble in 2012.

Three band members were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for the stunt. Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova spent nearly two years in prison following the incident.

 


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