Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, who recently returned to Russia following a global tour promoting prison rights in the country, were detained in Sochi for "theft." Why are we not surprised?

The pair, who openly challenged Putin to throw them back in prison during their visit to Europe and the U.S., said they were held in Sochi on Tuesday for no real reason. Tolokonnikova wrote on Twitter that "at the time of our detention, we weren't engaged in any protests, we were walking around Sochi. WE WERE WALKING." Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were planning to film a music video in Sochi with Pussy Riot (apparently, they're back in the band, after reportedly being ejected by the other members last week) for a song called "Putin will teach you to love the motherland." But they hadn't began the protest at the time of their arrest.

Tolokonnikova added that she and Alyokhina were held by police on Sunday and Monday as well. She wrote in a series of tweets, "On the 16th we were detained for seven hours... On the 17th, we spent 10 hours with the F.S.B. [Federal Security Service] and today we are in a police wagon, accused of theft.” She also posted an photograph showing Alyokhina, in a police vehicle:

Alyokhina also tweeted a photo from the paddy wagon:

In a later tweet, Tolokonnikova mentioned a beating on the floor in the Olympic capital. According to NBC's Richard Engel (and other news sources) the two have been released, but other journalists and activists that were also detained are still in police custody:

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were freed from their first stint in prison on December 23. They were released early in what they called a Kremlin publicity stunt ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics. They had been detained for nearly two years on charges of hooliganism for performing an anti-government punk song in a cathedral in Moscow along with the Pussy Riot collective. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, 24 and 25 respectively, were charming and genuine during their human rights campaign, talking intelligently and convincingly about the Kremlin's rights violations, especially poor prison conditions. 

The pair's lawyer Alexander Popkov talks to the press. Reuters

Though Sochi has been a much maligned site for this year's Winter Olympics, because of the warm, non-snow-friendly weather and because of Russia's poor rights record, protests have been scarce. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not end up banning protests outright, but activist arrests have made groups think twice about demonstrating too loudly, according to the New York Times

Some activists, including a local environmental organization, have said that they had sought to apply for permits but were strongly pressured by the authorities to withdraw their requests. The environmental group, for instance, said it had decided against a demonstration and instead agreed to a meeting with local and federal officials, including the deputy minister for natural resources.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina implied that they were only released from prison in the first place because of their celebrity status. In an essay on her experience in prison for the Guardian, Tolokonnikova wrote:

"If you weren't Tolokonnikova, you would have had the shit kicked out of you a long time ago," say fellow prisoners with close ties to the administration. It's true: others are beaten up. 

We hope that this time, their efforts can help others wrongly held get out as well. But it's clear that their battle against the Russian government is far from over.