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Pussy Riot's Pyotr Verzilov 'likely poisoned', doctors say

Pyotr Verzilov arrives on a special medical transport plane at Schoenefeld airport in Berlin on 15 SeptemberImage copyright
Reuters

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Pyotr Verzilov arrived in Berlin on a special medical transport plane

An activist with Russian protest group Pussy Riot who was taken ill after a court hearing last week was probably the victim of a poisoning attempt, German doctors treating him have said.

Pyotr Verzilov, 30, was flown to Berlin from Moscow on Saturday after arriving at hospital in a serious condition.

His symptoms reportedly included losing his sight and the ability to speak.

Mr Verzilov is best known for taking part in a protest at the Football World Cup Final earlier this year.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Dr Kai-Uwe Eckardt from Berlin’s Charité hospital said it was “highly plausible that it was a case of poisoning”.

He added that Mr Verzilov is out of danger, but the substance used has not yet been identified.

Nadya Tolokonnikova, a fellow Pussy Riot member and Mr Verzilov’s estranged wife, told German tabloid Bild at the weekend that she believed he had been “deliberately poisoned” for either “intimidation or even an assassination attempt”.

He is said to have spent several days in intensive care before regaining consciousness on Friday, friends told the Meduza news website.

Image copyright
Reuters

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Mr Verzilov was jailed for 15 days for his part in the World Cup pitch invasion

Image copyright
Reuters

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He is a vocal critic of the Kremlin

Mr Verzilov has been a prominent figure in the anti-Kremlin opposition for several years, including his work with Pussy Riot.

The group’s Twitter account posted a photograph of members posing with a banner alluding to the alleged poisoning on Friday.

Mr Verzilov holds both Russian and Canadian citizenship.

Earlier this week Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the situation was a “concern, obviously, given actions of recent months by the Russians in the UK” – referring to the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy and others in Salisbury.


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