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Pussy Riot member flown to Berlin after suspected poisoning in Moscow

Pussy Riot activist Pyotr Verzilov has been flown to Berlin to receive specialist medical treatment following a suspected poisoning in Moscow.

Verzilov, who was one of the four members of Pussy Riot who invaded the pitch dressed in police uniforms during the World Cup final in Moscow to protest excessive Russian police powers, fell ill following a court hearing on Tuesday and taken to hospital in a serious condition. His first symptoms included a loss of vision and being unable to walk.

It is not yet clear what is causing Verzilov’s illness, but other members of the protest group say they believe it to be poisoning.

The 30-year-old arrived at Berlin’s Schönefeld airport on Saturday night on a flight organised by the Cinema for Peace Foundation, which has close connections with the Russian protest group and is based in the German capital.

The foundation’s founder, Jaka Bizilj, told the German newspaper Bild that it was important for the family that Verzilov was treated as quickly as possible outside of Russia. “We hope now that he will be helped quickly in Berlin and that we can then establish whether and how he was poisoned in Russia.”

Fellow Pussy Riot member and also Verzilov’s ex-wife, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, posted a video on Twitter filmed through the door of the plane showing Verzilov being aided by a woman.

nadya
(@tolokno)

pic.twitter.com/uZ0is1gviB


September 15, 2018

He was reportedly accompanied by his mother Jelena. He was later wheeled off on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to hospital.

Tolokonnikova told Bild that what happened was “deliberate” and intended to “intimidate or even attempt to murder” her ex-husband.

Verzilov, who has a dual Russian and Canadian citizenship, is a prominent member of the anti-Kremlin scene and has been involved in protest art in Russia for more than a decade.

Bizilj, Cinema for Peace Foundation’s chair, said the NGO had urgently despatched an air ambulance to bring him to Berlin to run tests.

Writing on Facebook, Verzilov’s girlfriend and fellow Pussy Riot member Veronika Nikulshina expressed relief he had been transferred out of Russia.

She posted: “Three times hurrah to everyone who wrote, phoned, visited, cried and sang. We’re in Berlin. All is well.”

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