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Russian Authorities Acquit, Rearrest Pussy Riot Members
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Russian police on July 30 detained four members of the Pussy Riot punk performance group immediately after they were released from custody, having served 15 days for a stunt they performed at the World Cup final in Moscow.

Activists Veronika Nikulshina, Olga Kuracheva, and Olga Pakhtusova celebrated their release before being forced into a police van seconds later.

The fourth activist, Pyotr Verzilov, released from a different Moscow detention center, tweeted that he had been detained by riot police and driven to a police station next to Luzhniki stadium.

"They say they will leave us under arrest for the night," he tweeted.

Pakhtusova tweeted a video from inside a police van, saying authorities accused the group of breaking the law on public gatherings.

"Right at the exit of the detention center, they accused us of breaking the 20.2 law. They did not say anything. They just put us in a van and drove us away," she said.

A Moscow court earlier this month sentenced the activists to 15 days in custody and also banned them from visiting sports events for three years.

The four ran onto the pitch at Moscow's Luzhniki stadium in the second half of the World Cup final between France and Croatia, which was being watched by President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron.

They said it was a protest against Putin and issued a list of political demands, including freeing political prisoners and ending arrests at peaceful rallies.

Pussy Riot is best known 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.

Based on reporting by AFP and Interfax
Belarusian union leader Henadz Fyadynich gestures in court on July 30

MINSK -- The leader of a prominent independent trade union that played a role in street protests in 2017 is being tried on tax-evasion charges he contends are politically motivated.

Henadz Fyadynich and union accountant Ihar Komlik arrived for the start of their trial at the Lenin District Court in Minsk on July 30 wearing white shirts adorned with traditional Belarusian-Ukrainian embroidery patterns, a symbol of patriotism.

Belarusian authorities laid charges in August 2017 against Fyadynich, Komlik, and the union, which represents electronics-industry workers.

Komlik was taken into pretrial custody but was released in October. He and Komlik were ordered not to leave Minsk while the investigation was under way.

Fyadynich denies guilt and says the case against him, his assistants, and the union is politically motivated punishment for the union's role in organizing protests in February-March 2017 against legislation that would impose a tax on the unemployed.

Critics of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the authoritarian leader who has held power in Belarus since 1994, says his government routinely uses the justice system to suppress dissent.

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