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Pussy Riot protester Pyotr Verzilov ‘was probably poisoned’, doctors say

Medics in Berlin have not identified substance but are confident Russian will recover

Pyotr Verzilov served a 15-day prison sentence after running with other Pussy Riot members onto the field at Moscow’s FIFA World Cup final

Pyotr Verzilov, known for his role in supporting Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist artists’ collective famous for its outspoken protests against President Vladimir Putin, is likely to have been poisoned, the German doctor treating him in Berlin told reporters on Tuesday, according to Russian media reports.

“This is a case of poisoning with a high degree of probability,” Kai-Uwe Eckardt of the Charite clinic said at a news conference, the Interfax news agency reported. The doctor said that the source of the poisoning had yet to be determined. “It might have been medicines or some natural causes,” he said.

Verzilov was flown to Berlin for treatment on 15 September after falling ill in Moscow last week. The flight was arranged by his father, according to Veronika Nikulshina, a Pussy Riot member who is believed to be Verzilov’s girlfriend, Interfax reported.

Eckardt said that Verzilov’s condition “has improved a lot” and that “he is safe”. Karl Max Einhäupl, the head of the clinic, said that Verzilov did not require life support and that the hospital had been in close contact with doctors who had treated him in Moscow, where he had been in intensive care.

According to Interfax, Einhäupl said that drug tests on Verzilov were negative and that it might not be possible to identify precisely the toxin or how he was exposed.

"We are quite confident that he will fully recover," Eckardt said.