NEWS
17/07/2018 08:22 BST

Pussy Riot Protesters Jailed For World Cup Pitch Invasion

The four members of the punk activist group have been jailed for 15 days.

Ian MacNicol via Getty Images

Four members of the Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot have been jailed for disrupting the World Cup final by invading the pitch.

A Moscow court handed down 15-day jail sentences on the three woman and one man who ran onto the pitch at Luzhniki Stadium during Sunday’s World Cup final between France and Croatia wearing fake police uniforms.

The group invaded the pitch during the second half of the game in front of Russian President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking officials from around the world. 

The four, Veronika Nikulshina, Olga Pakhtusova, Olga Kurachyova and Pyotr Verzilov, were accused of violating the rules for spectators at sporting events and wearing police uniforms illegally. They were also banned from attending sports events for three years.

Verzilov said the performance was also meant to show how “the state, in the form of the police, intrudes into people’s lives”.

Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters

Kurachyova said their stunt, which held up the game only briefly, was meant to promote freedom of speech and condemn policies of FIFA, soccer’s global governing body.

“It is a pity that we disrupted the sportsmen,” Kurachyova told reporters on Monday.

“FIFA is involved in unfair games unfortunately. FIFA is a friend of heads of states who carry out repression, who violate human rights.”

Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters

Pussy Riot gained notoriety as a symbol of anti-Kremlin direct action when three of its original members were jailed in 2012 for staging a protest against Putin in a church. 

Croatian defender Dejan Lovren, who pushed the male intruder aside on the pitch, told reporters the incident had interrupted the game at an important moment for his team.

France’s Kylian Mbappe, however, high fived one of the intruders and a picture of the interaction went viral afterwards.