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Russian Pussy Riot member who stormed the World Cup was probably poisoned, doctors say

“The information we currently have shows a high plausibility that poisoning has taken place here.”

by Christianna Silva
Sep 18 2018, 7:56pm

There is a “high plausibility” that Pussy Riot's Pyotr Verzilov was poisoned in Russia last week, German doctors said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Verzilov, a prominent member of the anti-Kremlin protest group and publisher of independent media outlet Mediazona, got sick last Tuesday after attending a court hearing for his partner and fellow Pussy Riot member Veronika Nikulshina, who was arrested in 2012. He started losing his sight, speech, and mobility, Nikulshina told another media outlet, Meduza.

Almost immediately, friends and supporters began speculating that Verzilov had been poisoned for his outspoken activism against the Kremlin. After a brief stint in Moscow's Bakhrushin City Clinical Hospital, Verzilov was flown to Germany on Saturday night.

On Tuesday, Dr. Kai-Uwe Eckardt of the Berlin Charite Hospital appeared to confirm their suspicions. Eckardt said that Verzilov is currently suffering from an external substance that affected his nervous system. He is in intensive care, and doctors have yet to determine what exactly Verzilov was poisoned with.

“The information we currently have shows a high plausibility that poisoning has taken place here,” Eckardt said at the press conference. “To turn it around, so far we have no indication that there might be another explanation for his state.”

Eckardt added that he is no longer in a life-threatening condition, and that there isn’t any evidence that he will suffer a long-term illness as a result of the suspected poisoning.

Pussy Riot jumped on the news, posting on Twitter on Tuesday that they believe Verzilov was poisoned.

“We have all the reasons to suspect that he was poisoned by the Russian authorities,” the group wrote on Twitter.

In another press conference Tuesday, Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova went so far as to say said she believed Verzilov was the victim of an “assassination attempt.”

"Nobody who has taken part in political activity in Russia can really be safe," she said.

Verzilov has been involved with Pussy Riot for at least the past five years and is best known for storming the field during the World Cup Final in June to protest human rights violations in Russia.

“We demand justice, and we’ll do everything we could [sic] to find those people who’re in charge of poisoning Peter and be sure that they will be punished for what they did,” Pussy Riot posted to Twitter, adding: “We should stop poisonings, we should stop assassinations of people whose only one fault is honest, passion to truth and justice.”

Cover image: Pyotr Verzilov, who ran onto the pitch during the World Cup final between France and Croatia, gestures during a court hearing in Moscow, Russia July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/

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