Advertisement

Pussy Riot Activist Who Stormed World Cup Final Fights for Life after Suspected Poisoning

Pyotr Verzilov is in a critical condition in a Moscow hospital after losing sight, speech and mobility

Croatian footballer and security guard tackle Pyotr Verzilov during Pussy Riot’s protest at the World Cup final, 2018. Courtesy: Kyodo News via Getty Images

A Croatian footballer and security guard tackle Pyotr Verzilov during Pussy Riot’s protest at the World Cup final, 2018. Courtesy: Kyodo News via Getty Images

A Croatian footballer and security guard tackle Pyotr Verzilov during Pussy Riot’s protest at the World Cup final, 2018. Courtesy: Kyodo News via Getty Images

A member of the feminist punk collective Pussy Riot, known for their criticism of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s government, is in a critical condition in a Moscow hospital. Pussy Riot tweeted: ‘His life is in danger. We think that he was poisoned.’

Pyotr Verzilov, who holds dual Russian and Canadian citizenship, was among the Pussy Riot activists who stormed the World Cup final in Moscow earlier this year, in an anti-Kremlin protest. He had recently served a 15-day jail sentence for taking part in the demonstration. Verzilov was briefly arrested again last Sunday for unknown reasons, but was released hours later.

Verzilov’s friend Veronika Nikulshina said that he fell ill on Tuesday night: ‘He woke up and said that he had started to lose his sight […] Then he lost the ability to speak, then the ability to walk.’

In the ambulance, he ‘fell into such a half-asleep, half-unconscious state that he stopped responding to me and didn’t even recognize me anymore,’ Nikulshina said. Verzilov is currently in intensive care in the toxicology unit of a Moscow hospital, situated in the city’s Sokolniki district.

Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Verzilov’s former partner, tweeted that he may have been the victim of poisoning. She said that doctors had not allowed visits and were refusing to comment.

Verzilov made headlines when he invaded the pitch during the World Cup final match between France and Croatia on 15 July. The action was intended as a protest against political prisoners, illegal arrests and the fabrication of criminal cases. Don’t miss Aliide Naylor writing in frieze on why Pussy Riot’s anti-Kremlin protest at the World Cup final mattered: a reminder ‘that this happy, welcoming spectacle has a far darker side.’

Advertisement

Latest Magazines

Frieze Masters

September 2018

frieze magazine

September 2018