Pussy Riot's Verzilov Released From Berlin Hospital, Blames Kremlin For Poisoning Him

Sep 27, 2018

Pyotr Verzilov, a member of the Russian protest band Pussy Riot who fell seriously ill in Moscow two weeks ago, says he believes he was poisoned by agents working for the Kremlin.

Verzilov, speaking in an interview with the BBC after being released from a hospital in Berlin on Wednesday, blamed Russia's military intelligence service, the GRU, saying: "The poisoning was carried out so professionally that no other conclusion is possible."

Verzilov, an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, showed symptoms of poisoning in a Moscow courtroom on Sept. 11 as he was attending a hearing for a friend. Verzilov suffered from vision and speech problems and was unable to walk.

Last week, he was flown to Germany for treatment.

At the time, Verzilov's partner insisted he had been poisoned and doctors at Berlin's Charité hospital agreed that poisoning was "highly plausible," saying they had "no indication" that the cause of the activist's illness was "an infection or metabolic disease."

However, doctors said, "we cannot say anything about the question of how this toxin got into the body. It's not for us to answer this question."

Pussy Riot, is known for a series of daring public protests against Putin that have landed several of its members in Russian jails. In July, Verzilov and three other members of the band rushed the field dressed as police during a World Cup soccer final and served 15 days in jail for disrupting the match.

Verzilov told the BBC that his poisoning is "just the price you have to pay if you want Russia to change."

Russia's GRU is also blamed for a nerve-agent attack on Sergei Skripal, a former Russian spy, and his daughter, Yulia, who were found slumped on a bench in Salisbury in southern England in March. Although the Skripals survived the attack in which a Cold War-era nerve agent known as Novichok was used, two others who lived in the Salsibury area were accidentally exposed to the same substance weeks later. One of them died as a result.

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