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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Russian ‘Riot Grrrls’ Assaulted on Camera

The two best-known members of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot were assaulted on Thursday by six young men who hit the women and tossed acidic liquid and green dye on their faces while cursing at them for coming to the city of Nizhny Novgorod, five hours east of Moscow.

The feminist activists, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, shared photographs of the aftermath of the attack on Twitter and described it in a blog post, which was translated into English for The Huffington Post.

They also drew attention to YouTube video of the attack, in which they explained that they had gone to the city to visit a prison where the inmates had appealed for help from their new organization, Justice Zone, set up to defend the rights of prisoners. (The video, recorded during and just after the assault, includes some of the assailants’ obscene ranting.)

Video of the assault on the Pussy Riot activists Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina on Thursday in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Contains obscene language; subtitles can be turned off by clicking on the closed-caption button at the lower right of the player.

Both women were recently released from prison colonies after spending nearly two years in jail for taking part in a protest against Vladimir V. Putin’s return to the presidency in 2011. Their protest took the form of a “punk prayer” performed by Pussy Riot in a Moscow cathedral.

As Amnesty International suggested, “The attack appears to have been premeditated by an organized group: the assailants chanted slogans, held aloft a banner and filmed the entire incident.” The assault took place at a McDonald’s near the Nizhny Novgorod train station. According to the women, the location was not far from the local headquarters of Russia’s security service, the F.S.B., successor to the Soviet-era K.G.B. that President Putin once served in.

A still image of some of the young men â€" who wore ribbons associated with remembrance of World War II and carried a sign reading “Dirty whores out of our town” â€" was shared on the @gruppa_voina Twitter account run by Ms. Tolokonnikova’s husband, Pyotr Verzilov.

Similar ribbons have been worn by Russian activists involved in recent violent attacks in Ukraine, including one that took place in front of a Times photographer on Monday in which the victim’s face was also splattered with green liquid.

Follow Robert Mackey on Twitter @robertmackey.

President Obama and Aide Speak on Ukraine


Though Western allies are divided over whether to bring to bear heavy pressure on Russia or take a more conciliatory path toward encouraging Moscow to reverse course in the occupied Crimea, President Obama said during a brief address to journalists at the White House that “the world can see that we are united with our allies.”

The President spoke on efforts to lessen tensions in Ukraine but also sanction both that country’s pro-Russia leaders and Moscow for violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

After President Obama’s brief statement, his aides took to the lectern and held a full news conference, delving into greater detail about United States sanctions against Russia and its allied Ukrainian officials.

“Russia violated the sovereign integrity of Ukraine,” Jay Carney, the White House spokesman said, repeating what the United States and its European allies consider to be a fact, but what the Russian government rejects. Moscow says it was invited into Ukraine by its legitimate leader, Viktor F. Yanukovych, who was driven from his country by protestors.

Mr. Carney refused to say whether President Vladimir V. Putin would be subjected to punitive measures. He said no individual Russian or Russian entity has been targeted, but the executive order signed by President Obama granted the American government broad authority to impose punitive measures on people “responsible for destabilizing the Ukraine, including the invasion of Crimea.”

Mr. Carney also characterized as unconstitutional a proposed referendum that would allow Crimea to break from Ukraine and join Russia.