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Russia’s Pussy Riot claim World Cup pitch invasion

Two members of Pussy Riot spent 21 months in prison for performing a protests song in a Moscow cathedral in 2012 © AFP / Mladen ANTONOV

MOSCOW, Russian Federation, Jul 15Russian female protest punk group Pussy Riot claimed responsibility for a pitch invasion by three women and a man dressed in police uniforms that interrupted Sunday’s World Cup final.

France were on their way to a 4-2 victory over Croatia in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium when match play was briefly halted in the second half.

A security source told Interfax that the four were delivered to a local police station for questioning after being dragged off the pitch by stewards without putting up any resistance.

Pussy Riot immediately posted messages on social media claiming responsibility and issuing a list of six political demands.

“Let all political prisoners free,” said the first.

Others included an end to arrests at peaceful rallies and to “allow political competition in the country”.

The apparent protest was staged with President Vladimir Putin watching the match in a VIP box with his French and Croatian counterparts Emmanuel Macron and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.

Pussy Riot is most famous for performing a protest song in Moscow’s main cathedral in February 2012.

Three of the group’s members were convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” at a trial that attracted global media attention and drew protests from rights groups.

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Group members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were released after serving 21 months of their two-year sentences.

Fellow church protest participant Yekaterina Samutsevich was released on probation after two months.

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