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Russia jails Pussy Riot members who invaded pitch during FIFA World Cup 2018 final

A Moscow court sentenced Veronika Nikulshina, Olga Kuracheva, Olga Pakhtusova and Pyotr Verzilov to 15 days in police cells and also banned them from visiting sports events for three years

world Updated: Jul 17, 2018 09:54 IST
Pussy Riot members,Russia,FIFA World Cup 2018 final
The four members of Pussy Riot feminist punk group ran onto the pitch at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium on Sunday and briefly halted play in the second half of the match between France and Croatia, watched by President Vladimir Putin and world leaders. (Twitter/@pussyrrriot)

Russia has jailed four members of Pussy Riot feminist punk group for 15 days after they invaded the pitch during the World Cup final dressed in police uniforms.

A Moscow court sentenced Veronika Nikulshina, Olga Kuracheva, Olga Pakhtusova and Pyotr Verzilov to 15 days in police cells and also banned them from visiting sports events for three years, Mediazona court news site reported on Monday night.

They were found guilty of “grossly violating the rules for spectators’ behaviour” and given the maximum punishment possible under the charge.

Verzilov is the founder of Mediazona website, which reports on trials of rights activists.

The four ran onto the pitch at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium on Sunday and briefly halted play in the second half of the match between France and Croatia, watched by President Vladimir Putin and world leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron.

Pussy Riot immediately posted messages on social media claiming responsibility for the protest and issuing a list of six political demands.

“Let all political prisoners free,” said the first.

A combination picture shows four intruders affiliated to anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot, (L-R) Pyotr Verzilov, Veronika Nikulshina, Olga Pakhtusova and Olga Kurachyova, who ran onto the pitch during the World Cup final between France and Croatia, at a court building in Moscow, Russia, on Monday. (REUTERS)

Others included an end to arrests at peaceful rallies and to “allow political competition in the country”.

Pussy Riot is most famous for performing an anti-Putin protest song in a central Moscow church in February 2012.

Three of the group’s members were convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” at a trial that attracted global media attention and drew protests from rights groups.

Group members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were released after serving 22 months of their two-year sentences. The other convicted member Yekaterina Samutsevich was given a suspended sentence.

First Published: Jul 17, 2018 09:53 IST