Germany 'concerned' about health of anti-Kremlin activist in Berlin

Germany 'concerned' about health of anti-Kremlin activist in Berlin
By Michael-Ross Fiorentino
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Pyotr Verzilov, publisher of a Russian online news outlet and affiliated with the anti-Kremlin band Pussy Riot, lost his sight, hearing and ability to walk but is doing better since he arrived in Berlin for treatment on Saturday, two friends said on Sunday.


The German government has expressed concern about anti-Kremlin protester Pyotr Verzilov, after a suspected poisoning rapidly deteriorated the health of the Pussy Riot member.

“We have followed the case, of course, and are concerned about the health of Mr Verzilov,” a German foreign ministry spokeswoman told a regular government news conference. “We hope he will be better soon and that he will recover fully.”

Verzilov, 30 — who is known as the unofficial spokesperson for the band Pussy Riot — was flown from Moscow on a medical transport plane to Berlin late Saturday with symptoms such as loss of eyesight, loss of hearing and not being able to walk.

A spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry and another spokeswoman for the Chancellery told Reuters their offices were informed that Verzilov was coming to Berlin but were not involved in organising the trip.

In July, Verzilov invaded the pitch during the World Cup final in Moscow, along with three women affiliated with Pussy Riot. Verzilov is the publisher of Mediazona, a Russian online news outlet which focuses on human rights violations inside Russia's penal system.

Pussy Riot gained global recognition in 2012 when members of the feminist, punk rock group were jailed for staging a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Russian Orthodox cathedral in Moscow.

The group has since become a symbol of anti-Kremlin protest action and considers Putin’s policies as that of a dictator. The group has publically protested freedom issues facing the Russian people such as feminism and LGBT rights.

Verzilov’s flight to Germany was reportedly organised by the Cinema for Peace Foundation, whose founder has supported Pussy Riot in the past.

The chartered plane arrived at Berlin Schönefeld airport at about 22:45 local time (20:45 GMT) on Saturday night.

The foundation's founder said it is of utmost importance to establish if and how Verzilov was poisoned in Russia.

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