icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
2 Apr, 2024 11:06

Pussy Riot-linked Ukraine mercenary gets eight-year prison sentence

Pyotr Verzilov was tried in absentia by Moscow court for spreading falsehoods about Russia’s armed forces
Pussy Riot-linked Ukraine mercenary gets eight-year prison sentence

A Moscow district court has sentenced the former spokesman for the Pussy Riot anarchist punk group, Pyotr Verzilov, to eight years and four months in prison for publishing fake news about the Russian military. The activist, who fled the country four years ago, was tried in absentia.

The sentence, approved on Monday, was a month shorter than the prosecution had sought for the defendant. It also bans Verzilov from being a website administrator.

The criminal case against the 36-year-old related to social media posts that, according to prosecutors, amounted to deliberate disinformation about the Russian military. Specifically, he accused troops of massacring civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha in 2022. The allegations, which originated from Kiev and its Western backers, have been rejected by Moscow as false.

In November, Verzilov was tried in absentia and sentenced to eight years and six months in prison. However, that verdict was overturned last month by a higher court, over “violations of procedural law.”

The activist came into the public eye in 2008 after he and members of his Voyna (War) art group staged a performance at the Timiryazev State Biological Museum in Moscow. Voyna described the orgy the group filmed as an anti-government protest. Through this group Verzilov met Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who would later co-found Pussy Riot, and whom he would later marry.

In 2012, Tolokonnikova and other members of the group staged their “punk prayer” at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral, for which they were sentenced to two years in prison for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” Verzilov then briefly acted as the group’s spokesman.

Two years later, he and his associates founded the online news site Mediazona, which has received numerous awards from Western and Russian opposition media organizations. In October 2023, Verzilov announced that he had joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces.