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Pussy Riot member Veronika Nikulshina detained in Moscow on suspected drug charges

It is the second time in a month that the feminist activist has been arrested by police

Veronika Nikulshina from Pussy Riot and Pyotr Verzilov at the Cinema for Peace Gala in Germany earlier this year Photo by: Britta Pedersen/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Veronika Nikulshina, a member of Pussy Riot, the feminist protest group, was detained by police in Moscow on charges of suspected drug use, her lawyer told Mediazona, a prisoners’ rights news site started by the collective’s most famous members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina. Nikulshina denied the charges in a statement, according Mediazona, and “refused to be examined [for intoxication] for religious reasons”.

Nikulshina was taken in to custody by police on 8 May, reportedly after a neighbour complained about a noisy party at a friend’s apartment. Police told her she was being arrested because of damage to government property, Pussy Riot said in a statment. Pyotr Verzilov, the publisher of Mediazona and a participant in the group’s performances who was treated for a suspected poisoning last year, tweeted on Thursday that six of Nikulshina’s friends had also been detained. “It’s already a straight-out special operation!” he wrote.

In a tweet late Thursday night, Verzilov reported that Nikulshina and four of her friends had been released from police custody. He told Mediazona that a court hearing on her case had been set for 22 May. Nikulshina’s two other friends were released after questioning.

Nikulshina was briefly detained again by Moscow police last month, on her way to a theatre awards ceremony where she was nominee. Nikulshina and Verzilov also spent 15 days in prison after running onto the field dressed as police officers during last July’s World Cup final in Moscow.