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Pussy Riot’s Pyotr Verzilov during their World Cup protest
Pussy Riot’s Pyotr Verzilov during their World Cup protestvia RT

A Pussy Riot activist is in hospital after suspected poisoning

Pyotr Verzilov, who took part in the World Cup protest, ‘lost sight and speech’ before falling ill

Pussy Riot’s Pyotr Verzilov is suspected to have been poisoned, and is currently in intensive care. 

The Russian activist group confirmed on Twitter: “Our friend, brother, comrade Peter (Pyotr) Verzilov is in reanimation (meaning intensive care). His life is in danger. We think that he was poisoned.” 

His partner and fellow activist Veronika Nikulshina told Russian news outlet Meduza that he fell ill on Wednesday (September 12) and rapidly deteriorated over two hours. “First his sight, then his ability to speak, then even his ability to walk,” she said. He fell ill after appearing in court with other members of Pussy Riot. 

Verzilov was one of the Pussy Riot activists who stormed the World Cup pitch during the France and Croatia final, demonstrating against Russian police brutality and the criminal justice system. He was arrested, violently interrogated, released, arrested again and then released. 

According to Nikulshina, both she and his mother have been kept away from Verzilov, and have found it difficult to get information on his current condition. At time of reporting, he was in critical condition.

Verzilov is an artist, and has been part of the Voina art collective as well as a founding member of Pussy Riot. He is also a publisher of Mediazona, the Pussy Riot-founded Russian independent media site, which reports on the justice system, court cases, and Russian politics. 

Last month, the group’s Masha Alyokhina was blocked by Russian authorities from travelling to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to promote her book. Alyokhina defied the ban to travel to Scotland. 

Pussy Riot have been approached by Dazed for further comment.