BERLIN (Reuters) – An anti-Kremlin activist lost his eyesight, hearing, and ability to commit suspected poisoning last week, but feels better since he arrived for treatment in Berlin, according to a member of the Pussy riot band and a newspaper.
Anti-Kremlin activist Pyotr Verzilov, who lost his sight, hearing and ability to go into a suspected case of poisoning last week, arrives on September 15, 2018 in a special medical transport plane at Schönefeld Airport in Berlin. Cinemforpeace / Handout via REUTERS
Pyotr Verzilov, publisher of a Russian online news agency and affiliated with the anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot, arrived in Moscow on a late Saturday night in Moscow with a medical transport plane, said Jaka Bizilj, managing director of the Berlin Cinema for Peace Organization. The human rights group paid for the transport, and Bizilj said that Russia was "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.
Everything is fine, "said a member of Pussy Riot, Veronika Nikulshina, Reuters from Verzilov's hospital room. "The doctors here are great." She did not comment.
Verzilov was treated according to a well-known source in the Charité Hospital in Berlin. 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. "We are bringing Petya to Berlin because there is a friend of his father there, a doctor who will take care of him," she said, using the tiny form of Pyotr.
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 Embassy in Berlin did not respond immediately to a request for comment. The German Foreign Ministry declined to comment and referred to the strict German data protection laws.
Verzilov, 30, 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.
He had been ill on Tuesday after a trial in Moscow and later suffered seizures in an ambulance on the way to a hospital in Moscow, said Bizilj in a press release.
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