Pussy Riot’s Pyotr Verzilov blames Russia for ‘poisoning’

Pyotr Verzilov, left, speaks to Pussy Riot founder Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in hospitalImage copyright
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova/Reuters

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Hospital staff believe there is no explanation for Mr Verzilov’s condition other than poisoning

Pussy Riot member Pyotr Verzilov, who is believed to have been poisoned, has laid the blame squarely on Russia’s intelligence services.

“The poisoning was carried out so professionally that no other conclusion is possible,” the activist told German newspaper Bild.

He fell ill after a court hearing, losing his sight and ability to speak.

He was flown to Berlin for treatment, but discharged from hospital on Wednesday.

  • ‘Poisoned’ Pussy Riot man flown to Berlin
  • Pussy Riot activist ‘likely poisoned’

In the interview with the newspaper, Mr Verzilov said he “firmly believes” Russian secret services are behind the suspected poisoning two weeks ago, “possibly Russia’s GRU military intelligence”.

The Berlin Charité hospital where he was treated issued a press release on 18 September stating Mr Verzilov was admitted with “symptoms of poisoning”.

Staff now believe that, although there are no traces of poison in his system, there is no other explanation for his condition.

Image copyright
Reuters

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Pyotr Verzilov arrived in Berlin on a special medical transport plane

The activist claims they could have tried a “new cocktail of poisons” on him, as his symptoms were more immediate “than others”.

He says they may have tried to poison him for two reasons.

The first could be his part in a pitch invasion during the 2018 World Cup final, for which he and three other Pussy Riot members were briefly jailed.

  • How Pussy Riot burst into World Cup final
  • Pussy Riot: The story of their 2012 jailing

The second, for investigating “three Russian journalists who were murdered in Africa”.

Journalists Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguyev and Kirill Radchenko all died in the Central African Republic in an ambush over the summer.

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Facebook/TV Rain

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From L-R: Kirill Radchenko, Alexander Rastorguyev and Orkhan Dzhemal

Their mission was to look into reports that fighters from a Russian private military company (PMC), the Wagner Group, were operating there.

Mr Verzilov thinks his investigation into their deaths “is a more likely reason than the World Cup initiative.”

  • Murder of three journalists shocks Russia
  • What’s behind Russia’s sudden interest in CAR?

One day before his suspected poisoning, Mr Verzilov says he received news about the CAR deaths.

“We cannot comment on this publicly yet, but there is some news,” he told Bild.

Mr Verzilov said he had every intention of returning to Russia once he had recovered.

“I assume that those who once poisoned him will try again. That’s why I do not want him to go back,” his girlfriend Veronika Nikulshina told the paper.

“But you cannot stop Pyotr.”

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