Pyotr Verzilov

Russian activist and artist known for his provocative political performances

Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Pyotr Verzilov is a Russian street and performance artist,widely known for his provocative political performances. Verzilov is the husband and collaborator of Nadezda (or Nadya) Tolokonnikova, a Russian artistand member of the Pussy Riot feminist punk rock collective who was arrested while performing a “punk prayer” protest against authoritarianism in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Verzilov Was a member of the Strategy 31 protests and helped organize the Anti-Seligerand Last Autumn opposition forums. In 2012, he became a host on Network Public Television. On March 3, 2012, Verzilov’s wife and the other members ofPussy Riot were arrested by police and accused of “aggravated hooliganism” for performing a protest song, called “Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away,” in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Tolokonnikova and member Maria Alyokhina were sentenced to two years in prison. Amnesty International declared Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina prisoners of conscience and called for their immediate and unconditional release. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were pardoned in late 2013,prior to the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. In a subsequent interview, Verzilov stated,“We want to reform the courts, free the press and overhaul the political system.” (TorontoLife, Jan. 2014) In 2014, Pussy Riot was awarded the Human Rights Foundation Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissident. Verzilov accompanied Pussy Riot to the 2017 Cannes Film Festival where they were invited to perform.

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