Russia Launches New Probe Into Pussy Riot's Verzilov After 15-Day Sentence

Russia has launched an investigation into an activist and media publisher for failing to inform authorities he has a foreign passport on the same day he finished a 15-day jail sentence for swearing at police.

Russia’s Investigative Committee has subpoenaed Pyotr Verzilov, who publishes the independent Mediazona website, to appear on July 7 for questioning, the Kommersant daily cited him as saying. The Investigative Committee confirmed the probe into Verzilov, but otherwise declined to comment, the paper said.

Verzilov has a Canadian passport.

The subpoena was issued by Rustam Gabdulin, who handles very important cases and led the investigation into unsanctioned protests in Moscow in 2012 and 2019, Verzilov told the paper.

Moscow police on June 21 searched the home of Verzilov, who is also a founding member of the protest music group Pussy Riot, in connection with an investigation into an unsanctioned protest in July 2019 that ended in mass arrests. Verzilov said he was in Estonia on that day.

He was then taken to a police station and questioned about his ties to popular opposition figure Aleksei Navalny.

Upon his release later on June 21, Verzilov said he was followed by a man who tried to provoke him into an altercation and was then immediately arrested on charges of fighting.

However, when there was no proof of a fight, he was then charged with swearing and sentenced on June 22 to 15 days in jail.

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

Reporting by Kommersant and Mediazona