Pussy Riot came to Sochi looking for trouble: Russia deputy PM

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (right) and Maria Alyokhina speak to the press with fellow Russian punk group Pussy Riot members on Feb 20, 2014 in Sochi, after posted a new video filmed in the centre of Olympics host Sochi, savaging Russian President Vl
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (right) and Maria Alyokhina speak to the press with fellow Russian punk group Pussy Riot members on Feb 20, 2014 in Sochi, after posted a new video filmed in the centre of Olympics host Sochi, savaging Russian President Vladimir Putin over the hosting of the Winter Games and the rights climate in Russia. The high profile members of punk group Pussy Riot came to Olympics host Sochi this week looking for trouble, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said on Saturday, Feb 22, 2014, after the women were filmed being beaten with a horsewhip. -- PHOTO: AFP

SOCHI (AFP) - The high profile members of punk group Pussy Riot came to Olympics host Sochi this week looking for trouble, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said on Saturday after the women were filmed being beaten with a horsewhip.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who were released from prison colonies last year, were shoved, pushed to the ground and whipped by Cossacks in Sochi on Wednesday.

The pair, who have been vocal opponents of the Sochi Games and called for a boycott, had earlier been detained by police in connection with a theft case but not charged.

The shocking images of them being violently whipped by a Cossack vigilante feature prominently in their new music video which savages President Vladimir Putin over the hosting of the Games.

"The girls came here with the specific aim of provoking conflict," Mr Kozak told reporters at the Games.

"They had looked for it for a long time and in the end they succeeded in having a conflict with the local residents," he said.

But he added that the individual who carried out the whipping had been ordered to pay an administrative fine. He was never detained.

"The citizen who committed the act of hooliganism has been brought to responsibility in line with Russian law," said Mr Kozak.

He emphasised that Ms Tolokonnikova and Ms Alyokhina were facing no legal consequences as a result of their stay in Sochi.

The duo were sent to penal colonies on a two-year hooliganism sentence for performing an anti-Putin song in a Moscow cathedral in 2012.

However, they were freed early on amnesty in December last year.

Their new video, titled "Putin will teach you how to love the motherland", is bitterly critical of the Russian strongman and the hosting of the Games and also slams the rights climate in Russia.