Pussy Riot activist awake again after ‘poisoning’

MOSCOW: A member of the Pussy Riot punk band who took part in the World Cup final pitch invasion and was hospitalised with suspected poisoning, has regained consciousness and left intensive care, his girlfriend told Russian media.

“Petya (Pyotr) has regained consciousness,” girlfriend and fellow Pussy Riot activist Veronika Nikulshina said Friday evening.

Pyotr Verzilov, who has both Canadian and Russian citizenship, was admitted to hospital following a court hearing on Tuesday and later transferred to a Moscow trauma centre where staff described his condition as “serious”.

Nikulshina told Meduza news site he had been moved out of intensive care but was still experiencing hallucinations and delirium.

There has so far been no official statement on the cause of his illness.

Nikulshina said Verzilov, 30, had been poisoned by a large amount of medicine.

“It's definitely poisoning, poisoning with anticholinergic drugs,” Nikulshina told Meduza. “This is a question of a large dose.”

Such drugs are used to treat a range of issues including lung conditions. Verzilov's relatives have told media that he was not taking any medication.

Verzilov served a 15-day jail sentence along with Nikulshina and other Pussy Riot members for running onto the pitch during the July 15 World Cup final in a protest they said was aimed at highlighting abuse by Russian police.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said Ottawa was taking Verzilov's illness “very seriously” and would ensure he received support.

His sudden illness has been compared by Russian media to the suspected 2015 poisoning case of Kremlin opponent and rights activist Vladimir Kara-Murza who was diagnosed with acute kidney failure.

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He was found to have very high levels of heavy metals in his blood. Last year he once again fell into a coma, which his family said could be linked to the 2015 incident, and went abroad for treatment.

Kara-Murza was involved in lobbying in the United States for the expansion of the Magnitsky Act which imposed sanctions on Russian officials. — AFP