Cossacks whip Pussy Riot at Sochi performance

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.

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.

Pussy Riot had gathered in a downtown Sochi restaurant, about 21 miles 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.

Cossacks trace their history in Russia back to the 15th century. Serving in the czarist cavalry, they spearheaded imperial Russia’s expansion and were often used as border guards. Under communism, they virtually disappeared, but have since resurfaced, particularly in the south.

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