Russia has opted not to make martyrs out of four Pussy Riot protesters after they upstaged Vladimir Putin with their audacious World Cup Final protest, say reports.
The four – including glamour model Nika (Veronika) Nikulshina, 21, an economics student, and Olga Kurachyova, 25, who has worked for BBC Russia – will face administrative not criminal charges for their protest against human rights abuses.
They ran onto the pitch in the 52nd minute wearing hired police uniforms in the first significant security lapse in the five week tournament.
While they could be jailed for up to 15 days, they will not be sent to a Siberian hell penal colony as happened after a 2012 anti-Putin ‘punk prayer’ protest in a Moscow cathedral, according to the expected charges.
A more likely punishment is a fine, a ban from sporting events, and community work.
Pussy Riot tweeted: “Current situation: the 4 pussy riot members spent the whole night at the police station (note that there are no conditions to sleep, eat, take a shower etc) and are still there — going to be brought to the court. They are facing charges for administrative offenses so far.”
However, in 2012 the cathedral protest was ignored until Putin intervened demanding harsh action, it was reported at the time.
Also detained yesterday was Petr Verzilov, 31, the ex-husband of the group’s most prominent face Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 28, who was jailed for ‘hooliganism’ after the cathedral protest.
The final member detained was Olga Kurachyova, 31, an LGBT activist who says on her Facebookthat she has worked for BBC Russia as a journalist, and Olga Pakhtusova, 25.
Kurachyova studied as a journalist at Moscow State University.
Model Nika Nikulshina high fived French star Kylian Mbappe before being caught and escorted from the pitch.
She is better known for fashion shoots than political protests.
Croatian defender Dejan Lovren pushed Verzilov, helping stewards detain him.
“We’d been playing good football and then some interruption came,” said the Liverpool player.
“I just lost my head and I grabbed the guy and I wished I could throw him away from the stadium.”
“Perhaps you know that there is no rule of law in Russia, and any policeman may easily break into your life for no reason,” one of the women said.
“The FIFA World Cup demonstrated really well how well Russian policemen may behave.
“But what will happen once it ends?”
They raised the plight of Ukrainian “political prisoner” Oleg Sentsov, on hunger strike in a Siberian jail after being jailed for 20 years in 2015 on what are seen by the West as political charges of terrorism.
The Pussy Riot activists demanded freedom for all “political prisoners” in Russia and a halt to “illegal” arrests at anti-government rallies.
They called for “political competition” in the country.
And they want an end to “fabricated” criminal accusation keeping people in jail “for no reason”.
A video shows how two of the protesters were quizzed by a furious off-screen policeman after being detained.
He called Nikulshina a “bitch” and accused the protesters of “dumping” on Russia.
Police Exchange in Full
Policeman: The handcuffs, give me the handcuffs for both of them.
Who are you, bitch? What’s your name and family name?
So you don’t give a fuck about Russia?
Verzilov: No, we are on the Russian side.
P: And do you know that Russia will have to pay a penalty with sanctions by FIFA?
You’ve framed Russia.
V: No we didn’t
P: Yes you did. Are you not normal?
V: No, we are normal.
P: Are you? Where did you get the uniform?
V: We rented it.
P: Rented? Sometimes I’m sorry it’s not 1937 now. I’m really sorry. So you’ve taken a dump all over Russia?
V: No we didnt!
The protesters are to be charged with “violation of spectators’ rights” and illegally wearing police symbols when they ran onto the field during the World Cup final.
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