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Russian Activist Verzilov Reportedly Regains Consciousness, Moved From Intensive Care

Pyotr Verzilov gestures to supporters while making an appearance in court in Moscow in July. (file photo)
Pyotr Verzilov gestures to supporters while making an appearance in court in Moscow in July. (file photo)

Relatives of Pyotr Verzilov, a member of the Russian dissident art troupe Voina and an unofficial spokesman for the Pussy Riot protest group, say he has regained consciousness but remains in hospital following a suspected poisoning.

The Meduza website on September 14 quoted Verzilov's partner, Veronika Nikulshina, as saying he was no longer in intensive care.

"Petya has regained consciousness. He already recognizes me and my mother," she was quoted as saying.

Verzilov, founder of the Mediazona website, which reports on trials of Russian activists, is being treated in the toxicology section of Moscow's Bakhrushin City Clinical Hospital.

Earlier this year, Verzilov, who is also a Canadian citizen, was sentenced along with Pussy Riot members to 15 days in jail for briefly interrupting the July 15 World Cup final in Moscow between France and Croatia by running onto the field wearing fake police uniforms.

Verzilov became known as a member of the dissident art group Voina (War) in the late 2000s.

He performed with this then-wife, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who went on to form punk protest band Pussy Riot with Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich.

Pussy Riot members came to prominence after they were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" for a stunt in which they burst into Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral and sang a "punk prayer" against Vladimir Putin, who was prime minister and campaigning for his return to the presidency at the time.

Alyokhina and bandmate Tolokonnikova were close to the end of their two-year prison sentences when they were freed in December 2013, under an amnesty they dismissed as a propaganda stunt to improve Putin's image ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova founded Mediazona in 2014, with Verzilov becoming publisher.

With reporting by Meduza, Mediazona, and AFP
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