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Journalist and Pussy Riot member Pyotr Verzilov arrested walking around Moscow in a police uniform

Source: TASS

Moscow police have arrested Pyotr Verzilov — again. Verzilov is a member of the punk protest group Pussy Riot and the publisher of the independent legal news website Mediazona. This time, police caught him wearing one of their own uniforms.

Press Service of the police division for the Central Administrative District

Moscow’s police force initially reported that it had arrested a 32-year-old man without naming the arrestee. However, police also posted a video in which Verzilov’s face can be identified. In the video, the activist and journalist is seen dancing in the street in a police uniform. A source confirmed to TASS that a Pussy Riot member had been arrested. Verzilov did not respond to Meduza’s phone calls.

Verzilov will face administrative charges for wearing a police uniform without authorization and for violating self-isolation rules (he was arrested more than 500 meters away from his home).

Pyotr Verzilov is arrested in Moscow wearing a police uniform
Meduza

After the news of his arrest broke, Verzilov posted a video on Twitter that appeared to indicate he was wearing the uniform in order to film a parody clip with a group of friends. He wrote, “Friends! In response to media reports of my arrest, I would like to issue a clarification. The Moscow [police department] reached out to me with a request to develop new methods for regulating the population’s digital permits [which are now required to travel outdoors in the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic]. A group of criminals led by Veronika Nikulshina [Verzilov’s partner and fellow Pussy Riot member] conducted a series of tests to put the latest updates into practice.”

The video attached to Verzilov’s tweet appears to mock the chaotic rollout of Moscow’s digital permit system. It shows Verzilov in uniform asking for his friends’ permit numbers. Two of them, including Nikulshina, display numbers written on their lower eyelids and teeth, respectively, while a third friend play-acts hiding a packet of drugs only to find that Verzilov is interested exclusively in his digital pass number.

This is not the first time Pussy Riot has cavorted in police uniforms: the group’s 2018 protest action during the FIFA World Cup featured members running onto the field at Luzhniki stadium in police uniforms during a match between Croatia and France. That action was intended to address political repressions in the Russian criminal justice and election systems.

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