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Pussy Riot member Pyotr Verzilov detained in South Sudan along with Russian blogger Ilya Varlamov

Source: Mediazona
Update. Pyotr Verzilov, Ilya Varlamov, and the other Russian nationals detained in South Sudan have been released, reports RIA Novosti, citing Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. “Issues related to their departure from South Sudan are currently being resolved,” she added.

Pussy Riot member and Mediazona publisher Pyotr Verzilov has been arrested in the town of Kapoeta in South Sudan, along with well-known Russian blogger Ilya Varlamov and his wife Lyubov, European Gymnasium director Ivan Bogantsev, and their friend Vadim Ginzburg. 

The Russian nationals were removed from a flight and taken to a local police station because of a remote control from a drone that was found in Varlamov’s luggage, Verzilov told Mediazona on Wednesday, January 13.

According to local law enforcement officers, the detainees allegedly could have been “filming military objects with the drone.” The drone itself was seized in Uganda, where the group was travelling prior to their arrival in South Sudan.

On his blog, Varlamov wrote that police officers wanted to seize their phones, but the Russian nationals refused to hand over their devices. They are now anticipating a full inspection.

The detainees have already reached out to the local Russian Embassy for assistance. In a comment to Interfax, Russian diplomats confirmed that Verzilov and Varlamov contacted them and that they are looking into the situation. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that diplomats are making efforts to secure the release of the detainees.

Varlamov speculated that the Sudanese military simply wanted to confiscate his drone and were upset when they couldn’t find it; as such, they arrested the entire group.

Verzilov and Varlamov in a video “from a prison cell in South Sudan”

The Russian nationals arrived in Africa as tourists at the end of December.

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