Jailed Pussy Riot activist hospitalised after possible poisoning
Russian media is reporting that a founding member of Russian agit-punk outfit Pussy Riot is gravely ill in hospital after being possibly poisoned.
Pyotr Verzilov lost his eyesight and speech and ability walk within a two hour period earlier this week when he appeared in court with other members of the band.
He was taken to the toxicology unit of a Moscow hospital, said his partner and band member Veronika Nikulshina.
The band Tweeted: “Our friend, brother, comrade Peter (Pyotr) Verzilov is in reanimation [meaning intensive care]. His life is in danger. We think that he was poisoned.”
Verzilov, Nikulshina and two other activists served 15-day jail sentences for disrupting July’s World Cup final.
They gate-crashed the field in the match between France and Croatia wearing police uniforms, to make a statement before the world’s television cameras about excessive police powers in Russia.
According to Nikulshina, she and his mother have been denied permission to see him or get proper updates on his medical condition.
Nikulshina, told Russian website Meduza that “when the paramedics arrived, he answered all their questions, saying, ‘No, I didn’t eat anything, no, I didn’t take anything.’
“He was getting worse even faster, and then he started convulsing.
“On the way [to the hospital], in the ambulance, he was already babbling… he fell into such a half-asleep, half-unconscious state that he stopped responding to me and didn’t even recognise me anymore.”
Aside from helping to form Pussy Riot, Verzilov is a visual artist who is part of the Voina art collective.
He is also a publisher of Mediazona, the media site set up by Pussy Riot to independently report on Russian politics and its justice system.
The Russian state has used violence, intimidation, harassment and jail to deal with Pussy Riot’s outspoken views.
In August, authorities tried to stop Masha Alyokhina from speaking at the Edinburgh Fringe by refusing her a visa. She defied the ban and went to launch her new book.
Last weekend, Nikulshina and a friend were held by police after being stopped in Moscow.
Pussy Riot Tweeted: “Moscow police is now claiming that Nika and her friend were refusing to agree to a ‘terrorist check’ of their car – and they had to be arrested. Crazy accusations!”
A later post revealed: “The girls have been arrested in their car for absolutely NOTHING. Moscow police is still mad after the World Cup action.”