Russian Deputy PM: Cossack 'held accountable' for whipping attack on Pussy Riot

The Associated Press

Members of the punk group Pussy Riot, including Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in the blue balaclava and Maria Alekhina in the pink balaclava, are attacked by Cossack militia in Sochi, Russia, on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. The group had gathered in a downtown Sochi restaurant, about 30km (21miles) from where the Winter Olympics are being held. They ran out of the restaurant wearing brightly colored clothes and ski masks and were set upon by about a dozen Cossacks, who are used by police authorities in Russia to patrol the streets. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

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By NATALIYA VASILYEVA, Associated Press

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said Saturday the Cossack who horsewhipped members of Pussy Riot has been "held accountable" for the attack.

The punk group spent five days in Sochi this week, filming footage for its new video criticizing President Vladimir Putin and the Sochi Olympics. A group of Cossacks armed with whips was in central Sochi on Wednesday. Minutes after the group started to perform its song, one Cossack began lashing his whip.

Asked about the band's treatment in Sochi, Kozak would not specifically say what action was taken against the attacker. Local media reported Friday he was fined, but they did not identify him.

Kozak insisted the women "came here with the purpose of provoking a conflict" and added that the "conflict" they had was with "local residents."

Russia has mounted a massive security operation for the Olympics, deploying more than 50,000 police and soldiers amid threats from Muslim insurgents. A Muslim militant group in the Russian province of Dagestan claimed responsibility for back-to-back suicide bombings that killed 34 people in Volgograd in late December and threatened attacks on the games.

Kozak said Russian officials "worried" about security, but "just as any government in any country would no matter if it is holding the Olympics or any other major public event."

Kozak lauded the work of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies at the Sochi Games, which so far have been uneventful regarding security.

"We were confident that our law enforcement agencies would be up to the task, and they did brilliantly," he said.

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