BERLIN (Reuters) – An anti-Kremlin activist lost his eyesight, hearing, and ability to take part in a suspected poisoning last week, but feels better since he arrived for treatment in Berlin, two friends said Sunday.
Pyotr Verzilov, one of four intruders of the Russian Pussy Riot protest group, who were detained for 15 days during a pitch invasion during the FIFA World Cup final and were detained after their release on July 30, shows a double thumb in front of a courthouse in Moscow, Russia July 31, 2018. REUTERS / Tatyana Makeyeva / Files
Pyotr Verzilov, publisher of a Russian online news agency and member of the anti-Kremlin band Pussy Riot, arrived in Moscow on a medical transport plane late Saturday in Moscow, the managing director of the human rights group "Cinema for Peace" in Berlin. Jaka Bizilj, said. The group paid for the transport, and Bizilj said that Russia had been "cooperative" in this matter.
Photos taken by Bizilj at Berlin's Schönefeld Airport showed Verzilov on a stretcher with his eyes closed when he was taken to an ambulance.
The 30-year-old Yulzilov became ill after a hearing in Moscow on Tuesday and later suffered seizures in an ambulance on the way to a hospital in Moscow, said Bizilj in a press release.
Everything is fine, "said Pussy Riot member Veronika Nikulshina Reuters on Sunday from Verzilov's hospital room in Berlin. "The doctors here are great." She did not comment.
Vergilov was treated after a well-known source in the Charite Hospital in the German capital. The hospital declined to comment.
The German newspaper Bild, which reported on the arrival of Verzilov, quoted family members on Saturday as saying he had lost his eyesight, ability to speak and lost his ability to walk.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikowa, wife of Verzilov and member of Pussy Riot, told the newspaper that she believed he was poisoned. "I believe he was purposely poisoned and that it was an attempt to intimidate or kill him," she said.
Nikulshina told the BBC that a friend of Zelilov's father would treat him.
Bizilj said that Verzilov has both Russian and Canadian citizenship. He said that doctors at the clinic on Monday should inform the public about the condition of the activist.
The Canadian government said they are monitoring the situation closely and looking for more information.
"Canada is concerned about the situation of the Canadian citizen Pyotr Verzilov, our officials are in contact with Mr. Verzilov's family and are ready to provide further consular assistance," said a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada.
The German Foreign Ministry declined to comment and referred to the strict German data protection laws.
Verzilov is editor of Mediazona, a Russian online news agency focused on human rights violations in the penal system of Russia. During the FIFA World Cup finals in Moscow in July, he held a short pitch invasion, along with three women associated with Pussy Riot.
It was not clear whether the medical transfer was discussed at a meeting on Friday between German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Pussy Riot became known in 2012 when its members were arrested for protesting against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Russian Orthodox cathedral in Moscow. The group has since become a symbol of protests against the Kremlin.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Cut by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Susan Fenton