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Pussy Riot Member Leaves Russia Citing 'Persecution'


Pussy Riot member Veronika Nikulshina

Veronika Nikulshina, a member of the Pussy Riot performance-art collective, has left Russia after being released from custody following her second arrest in less than a month.

Nikulshina told Dozhd television that she left because of the ongoing state “persecution” of Pussy Riot members and her repeated arrests for failure to obey police officers.

Nikulshina said she left Russia immediately after her release from jail on July 17, adding that she believed her car to the airport was followed.

She said that she has not emigrated and plans to return to Russia, possibly after the country’s legislative elections in September.

Nikulshina was sentenced to 15 days in custody on July 3 for disobeying a police officer. She had been released from custody following another 15-day sentence on July 2.

Pussy Riot came to prominence in 2012 when five members of the group burst into Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral to protest ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Their protest -- the performance of a song they described as a "punk prayer" -- took place as Putin was campaigning for his return to the presidency.

Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were convicted on a charge of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" and sentenced to two years in a penal colony. The duo were close to completing their sentences when they were granted amnesty in December 2013.

In another stunt, Pussy Riot members -- including Nikulshina -- interrupted the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow between France and Croatia by running onto the field wearing fake police uniforms.

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