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Pussy Riot activist Pyotr Verzilov (file photo)

Russian news reports said a prominent opposition activist who was a founding member of the protest music group Pussy Riot has been detained by Moscow police

Pyotr Verzilov was quoted as telling the news site Mediazona that he was detained at his home earlier on June 21 after police searched his residence.

He said the investigation were connected to the mass arrests that occurred in July 2019 amid weeks of protests over local Moscow elections. Opposition activists used the election campaign to highlight what they said was a rigged electoral process.

The state-run news agency TASS, meanwhile, cited a police official as saying that Verzilov was detained as part of an investigation but did not report further details.

Another news agency, Interfax, cited unnamed law enforcement officials as saying Verzilov had been detained on extremism charges.

Verzilov is a publisher of Mediazona and a founder of the performance art group Pussy Riot that staged a video performance in a Moscow cathedral in 2012. Several women who performed in the video were charged and sentenced to prison terms for charges that included offending religious believers.

In 2018, Verzilov drew worldwide attention when he and three other Pussy Riot activists ran onto a field during the World Cup soccer match in Moscow to protest police brutality. He and the others served 15 days in jail.

Based on reporting by Mediazona, TASS, and Interfax
Armenian opposition leader Gagik Tsarukian (file photo)

An Armenian court has rejected a petition by investigators to arrest the leader of the country’s main opposition party, who faces charges of making election bribes and vote buying.

The court's June 21 decision came five days after parliament stripped Gagik Tsarukian of his immunity, opening the door for his prosecution and arrest.

A wealthy businessman, Tsarukian heads the Prosperous Armenia Party, the largest opposition faction in the National Assembly, holding 25 of the chamber's 132 seats.

The case stems from allegations of vote buying in the 2017 general elections, allegations that Tsarukian and members of his political team have called politically motivated.

The prosecutor-general's office said it would appeal the court's decision.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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