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IOC: Attack on group 'unsettling'

SOCHI, Russia -- The International Olympic Committee says images of the attack on the Pussy Riot punk group in Sochi are "very unsettling."

IOC spokesman Mark Adams says the governor of the Krasnodar region has apologized for the attack and is investigating.

Adams says it is a matter not directly related to the Sochi Games but he "found the pictures and the video very unsettling."

On Wednesday, Cossack militia attacked the group with horsewhips as the artists tried to perform under a sign advertising the Sochi Olympics.

The performance-art collective, made up of a loose grouping of feminists, has called for a boycott, arguing that Putin has exceeded his authority and is restricting human rights. Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina spent nearly two years in prison on charges of hooliganism for their protest in Moscow's main cathedral in 2012.

Pussy Riot's video, called "Putin will teach you how to love the motherland", was posted on YouTube and features a song and footage of the band's protests. Members told a news conference their treatment in Sochi is symptomatic of dissent being stifled in Russia.

"The Olympics has turned the police state into a total police state and the authoritarian regime into a totalitarian regime with preventive arrests," Tolokonnikova said. "The Olympics has created an environment of sweeping violations of human rights in Russia. We are banned from speaking out here."

Tolokonnikova described the band's performances throughout the city since Sunday as a form of "active boycott" of the Games.

As they gave the news conference in a Sochi park, Pussy Riot was surrounded by pro-Kremlin activists, who interrupted speakers.

Madonna, the band's highest-profile fan, referenced the incident on Twitter.

Adams says the IOC wants to know more details but called it "largely an issue for" the Russian government.

He added that "it's a shame if the Olympics is used as a political platform" and that "we saw the strong feelings, on both sides, these things can provoke."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.