ACTIVISTS from the punk group Pussy Riot have been released by police in Sochi, the Russian host city of the Winter Olympics.

It was earlier claimed that three members of the group were detained while walking in central Sochi.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova wrote on Twitter that she and Maria Alekhina were stopped and accused of a crime. She said a third member of their group was also detained.

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Local activist Seymon Simonov said the two Pussy Riot members were accused of theft and nine people were held in all.

Ms Tolokonnikova said authorities used "force" during the detention near the ferry terminal area where booths celebrating the Olympics have been set up. The area is about 20 miles north of the seaside Olympic venues.

Ms Tolokonnikova said: "At the moment of detention, we were not conducting any actions, we were walking in Sochi. We are in Sochi with the goal of staging a Pussy Riot protest."

Ms Tolokonnikova also said they had been detained for about 10 hours on Sunday.

The women were held at a police station in Adler, a suburb of Sochi that is home to the Olympic Park. No charges have been filed.

Ms Alekhina and Ms Tolokonnikova spent nearly two years in prison but were released in December. They were convicted of hooliganism after staging a protest in Moscow's largest cathedral in opposition to President Vladimir Putin's government.

Pussy Riot have become an international flashpoint for those who contend the Putin government has exceeded its authority in dealing with an array of issues, notably human and gay rights.

Ms Alekhina and Ms Tolokonnikova recently visited the US and Germany to take part in an Amnesty International concert and remain critics of Mr Putin.