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Pussy Riot Members Sentenced to Fifteen Days in Jail for World Cup Final Protest

The four members of the punk art collective Pussy Riot who were arrested after they disrupted the final match of the FIFA World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday were sentenced to fifteen days in jail and barred from attending sporting events for the next three years.

The activists—Veronica “Nika” Nikulshina, Olga Kuracheva, Olga Pakhtusova, and Petya Verzilov—stormed the field at the Luzhniki Stadium, while dressed as Russian police officers, during the second half of the match between France and Croatia, which France won, in protest of the country’s political and prison systems. They were forcibly removed from the pitch by security guards and spent the night in jail where they waited to appear before a judge at Moscow’s Khamovnichesky Court on Monday.

Shortly after the stunt, a statement claiming responsibility for the action appeared on the group’s social media pages. On Pussy Riot’s Facebook page, they also released a list of demands. They are calling for the release of political prisoners in Russia; for the country to allow for political competition; and for an end to the illegal detainment of people participating in political rallies, the imprisonment of people for “likes,” and the fabrication of criminal accusations.

The collective is perhaps most famous for performing a song, “Punk Prayer,” that was critical of Russian president Vladimir Putin inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior in 2012. As a result, three members were arrested and charged with “hooliganism.” Two were sentenced to two years in prison but were released after twenty-two months, and the other member received a suspended sentence.

Sunday’s protest, which they dubbed “Policeman Enters the Game,” was also meant to commemorate the death of Russian poet Dmitri Prigov, who wrote about the ideal image of a policeman—the heavenly policeman—and coincided with the release of the new music video for Pussy Riot’s song “Track About Good Cop.”

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