In Brief

Pussy Riot Crashes World Cup Final, Makes Six Demands

For 25 seconds, Pussy Riot disrupted the World Cup in one of their most daring protests in years.

Pussy Riot-affiliated protesters, including the husband of jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, broke onto the field dressed as policemen, and managed to disrupt the World Cup. (GIF by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic, from footage on the WeArePussyRiot YouTube channel)

It’s all eyes on Russia today, as the Trump-Putin Mutual Adoration Society held a press conference casting aspersions on the FBI investigation into Russia’s interference with the 2016 election in the United States (haha, that’s very normal, right?). Even those wishing to avoid politics in favor of some sports-ball were in for an unexpected intervention, as four members of the Russian protest-punk band, Pussy Riot, charged the World Cup pitch, interrupting the final match between France and Croatia for 25 seconds.

As reported by BBC News, three women and one man, all affiliated with Pussy Riot and dressed in police-style uniforms (which may explain how they even managed to temporarily penetrate such a high-security event), broke onto the field during the second half of the internationally televised football match. The four were summarily arrested, but not before one of the female protesters had time to high-five French soccer star Kylian Mbappé and the male protester was angrily seized upon by Croatian defender Dejan Lovren. It was clearly France’s zeal in the spirit of revolution that contributed to their eventual 4-2 win over Croatia.

Screen capture from video footage of the protesters under interrogation by Russian authorities, posted to Twitter by anti-Putin blogger Alexey Navalny.

After being removed from the pitch, the protesters were taken to a police station, where they were identified as Nika Nikulshina, Olga Kurachyova, Olga Pakhtusova, and Pyotr Verzilov (husband of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, one of the three Pussy Riot members jailed in 2012). After spending a night in uncomfortable conditions, as reported by Pussy Riot on Twitter, the quartet of protesters were charged with the finable offenses of violating the rules for spectators at sporting events and of wearing police uniforms illegally, offenses that run maximum fines of 10,000 roubles (£121; $161) and 1,500 roubles, respectively. Blogger Alexey Navalny posted interrogation footage of two of the protesters being interrogated (or simply berated).

The protesters also released six demands:

  1. Let all political prisoners free.
  2. Not imprison for “likes”.
  3. Stop illegal arrests on rallies.
  4. Allow political competition in the country.
  5. Not fabricate criminal accusations and not keep people in jails for no reason.
  6. Turn the earthly policeman into the heavenly policeman.

Pussy Riot claims it was a protest of human rights abuses in Russia — to which we must surely add subjecting the good people of Russia to a visit by our bloviating hack-job of a President.

On Monday, a Moscow court has jailed the four people who ran onto the field during Sunday’s World Cup final for 15 days.

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