Pussy Riot members detained over protest in Siberian city
Russian police yesterday detained two members of Pussy Riot after they staged a protest in support of a jailed Ukrainian filmmaker in a Siberian city. Maria Alyokhina, one of the punk rock group’s members previously jailed for a protest against President Vladimir Putin, wrote on Twitter that she and Olga Borisova were being held in Yakutsk.
Alyokhina tweeted that they had been taken to a police station after protesting in support of filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who is serving a 20-year term for “terrorist” offences in Yakutsk, almost 5,000 kilometers east of Moscow. “We’re in Yakutsk police station No. 2,” Alyokhina wrote. Borisova, in a video from a police car posted on Twitter, added: “We’re going to the police station... on suspicion of committing an administrative offence, (holding) an unsanctioned rally.”
Alyokhina on Sunday posted photos and a video of their brief protest on a bridge, calling Sentsov’s case “one of the key political cases in the history of our country.” For the protest, the women donned the group’s signature colourful balaclavas and held flares and a sign saying “Free Sentsov.” Sentsov was convicted for masterminding arson attacks on pro-Kremlin party offices in Crimea after Russia annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014.
His case was denounced by the West and filmmakers around the world continue to speak out in support for him. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin praised the protest, writing on Twitter: “Respect to @pussyrrriot for building the bridge of freedom in Yakutsk. #FreeSentsov” Alyokhina served a prison term for a protest performance in a Moscow cathedral, being convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.
Elsewhere, rescuers yesterday desperately tried to contact eight miners missing in a flooded Siberian diamond mine as investigators opened a probe into suspected violations of safety rules. The accident on Friday at the mine in the Sakha region some 4,000 kilometers east of Moscow saw water flood in from a disused crater.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, which probes serious crimes, said Monday it had opened a criminal case over suspected breaches of safety procedures at the mine, owned by the country’s largest diamond producer Alrosa, punishable by up to three years in jail. Rescuers helped an injured miner escape on Saturday, bringing the total who have been evacuated to 143. He was hospitalized in a serious condition with hypothermia.
Specialized climbers were working on Monday to try to establish communications with the section where the remaining eight men are believed to be trapped by sending a signal through a drainage pipe, Alrosa said in a statement. The company’s president Sergei Ivanov said Sunday that rescuers were trying to reach a location where the miners may be trapped, but the company denied a report that their exact whereabouts had been identified.
Specialist rescuers were also working inside the mine to clear tunnels blocked by mud from the flooding and rock fragments from the mining process, Alrosa said. The emergency situations ministry said rescuers had already explored along tunnels stretching almost seven kilometers and had cleared 200 meters of blocked tunnels.
The company was also working to set up extra pumps to remove water from the huge crater that is leaking into the underground mine shafts, to ensure the rescuers’ safety. Relatives of the men still inside in the mine flew into the town of Mirny where the mine is located, Alrosa said, and were set to meet the company’s leadership and rescuers. Alrosa made a net profit of 22.7 billion rubles ($376.37 million) in the first quarter of 2017.— Agencies
YAKUTSK: In this handout photo released by Zona.media, Maria Alyokhina and Olga Borisova, members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, hold flares and a banner on the bridge nearby outside the prison colony. —AP