SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said Pussy Riot members incited Cossack auxiliary police to beat them during a protest at the Winter Olympics.
Members of the feminist punk group said they were filming a performance of an anti-Kremlin song Wednesday in Sochi when 15 to 20 Cossacks and 10 to 15 plainclothes police officers began to beat them.
"A few seconds into the song they began beating us with batons, and pepper sprayed us," said Maria Alyokhina, one of the group's members who was jailed for hooliganism after a protest against President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's main cathedral.
"The girls came here specifically to provoke this conflict," Kozak said. "They had been searching for it for some time and finally they had this conflict with local inhabitants."
"The Olympic Games became a target for the terrorists, but our law enforcement agencies and our special forces, in co-operation with all the countries of the world, all the special services in the world, including Great Britain, joined in the effort to prevent terrorism. All of us have fulfilled this task brilliantly," he added.