Pussy Riot activist Pyotr Verzilov arrives in Berlin for treatment | News | DW | 15.09.2018
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Pussy Riot activist Pyotr Verzilov arrives in Berlin for treatment

Russian activist Pyotr Verzilov has been transferred to a Berlin hospital after suddenly falling ill in Moscow, according to his girlfriend, who is a Pussy Riot member. The protest group fears Verzilov was poisoned.

Kremlin critic Pyotr Verzilov landed in Berlin late on Saturday to receive medical treatment after suffering an unexplained health crisis earlier this week. Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova posted a video appearing to show Verzilov, conscious, inside an ambulance flight. 

The 30-year-old Russian-Canadian had attended a court hearing on Tuesday. After coming home, he started complaining of losing his ability to see, speak and walk. He grew delirious and eventually lost consciousness on his way to the hospital, according to his girlfriend Veronika Nikulshina, a member of the punk protest group Pussy Riot.

Verzilov worked as a producer and spokesman for the anti-government group. In July 2018, he invaded the pitch during the final World Cup game between France and Croatia, alongside three Pussy Riot members.

Pussy Riot activists invade the pitch during the World Cup final (picture-alliance/GES/Marvin Ibo Guengoer)

Verzilov and his associates wore police uniforms to gain access to the field

Awake but delirious

While doctors provided little information on the case, Nikulshina and other Pussy Riot activists publicly speculated that Verzilov had been poisoned.

"It is definitely poisoning with anticholinergic drugs," Nikulshina told the Russian Meduza news outlet. "This is about a major dose."

The drugs affect the nervous system and can be used to treat various conditions, including Parkinson's disease or asthma.

Read more: Pussy Riot is not giving up on Russia

Before losing consciousness on Tuesday, Verzilov told doctors that he had not "taken any substances."

On Saturday, Nikulshina said Verzilov was awake but still suffering from "delirium and hallucinations."

"He communicates better now, but he also keeps falling asleep, because he is tired," she said.

Shadow of Skripal

Nikulshina also said that the activist would be transferred to a clinic in Berlin to receive medical treatment.

Verzilov heading to court in July 2018 (pictue-alliance/dpa/A. Novoderezhkin)

Verzilov served 15 days for invading the pitch in July 2018

Some observers have compared Verzilov's fate with a health crisis suffered by another Kremlin critic, Vladimir Kara-Murza, who also suddenly fell ill in 2015 and was eventually found to have high levels of heavy metal in his blood. The event also comes as Moscow still struggles to fend off the allegations about the Novichok poisoning of the double agent Sergei Skripal on UK soil.

On Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government was taking the Russian-Canadian's case "very seriously."

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Heroes to some, criminals to others: Pussy Riot

dj/ng (AFP, dpa)

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