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Veronika Nikulshina

Veronika NikulshinaVeronika Nikulshina, born on the 28th of May, 1997 in Moscow, Russia. She is a model and a member of the performance activists known as Pussy Riot.

Veronika “Nika” Nikulshina is a multidisciplinary artist and human rights defender from Russia. She is known for her work as a performance artist and as a prominent member of Pussy Riot. Her work with the punk feminist group has made Nikulshina a target of political persecution in Russia, forcing her to leave the country.

Pussy Riot came to prominence in 2012 when five members of the group burst into Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral to protest ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Their protest was the performance of a song they described as a "punk prayer" -- took place as Putin was campaigning for his return to the presidency.

Pussy Riot members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were convicted on a charge of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred" and sentenced to two years in a penal colony.

The duo were close to completing their sentences when they were granted amnesty in December 2013. In another stunt, Pussy Riot members - including Nikulshina - interrupted the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow between France and Croatia by running onto the field wearing fake police uniforms.

When Pussy Riot performers Veronika Nikulshina, Olya Kurachyova and Olga Pakhtusova step out their front door in Russia, they don't know if they will be thrown in jail, or worse.

Nikulshina says: "You wake up and don't know where you will spend the night. It is a good chance it will be at he police station?"

They look like any hip artists - tattoos on their wrists, blue fingernails, dressed mostly in black, though Nikulshina's wearing pink mules with white socks and Kurachyova has pink-washed locks - but these Pussy Riot members have an edge.

They are brave and sharp, their performances are mixed with razor-like humour. in order to join the Russian anti-Kremlin punk group, whose number varies but is usually less than 12, you don't need a Grammy award-winning voice. After all it's mostly screaming.

What's essential, says Kurachyova: "You need to be ready to fight and go to prison to be an activist in Russia, say members of the anti-Kremlin punk band, who've been working on an artistic collaboration in South Africa. Pussy Riot stirred up a little anarchy in Cape Town, South Africa.

Veronika Nikulshina, a member of the Pussy Riot performance-art collective, has left Russia after being released from custody following her second arrest in less than a month.

Veronika NikulshinaNikulshina told Dozhd television that she left because of the ongoing state “persecution” of Pussy Riot members and her repeated arrests for failure to obey police officers.

Nikulshina said she left Russia immediately after her release from jail on July 17th, adding that she believed her car to the airport was being followed.

She also said that she has not emigrated and plans to return to Russia, possibly after the country’s legislative elections in September.

Nikulshina was sentenced to 15 days in custody on July 3rd for disobeying a police officer. She had been released from custody following another 15-day sentence on July 2nd

In 2020, Nikulshina was involved in two further high-profile Pussy Riot actions. In the first, she and a group of fellow artists-activists – including Kuzminykh and Sofeev – staged an action on Red Square to protest the constitutional amendment allowing Putin to extend his term in office until 2036.

In a nod to the famous 1991 protest by the conceptual art group E.T.I, the artists-activists lay down on the Square, their bodies forming the numbers 2036.

Pussy Riot members hang flags on government buildings in Russia. Later in 2020 on Putin’s birthday, Nikulshina, Sofeev and three other members of Pussy Riot staged a performance-action across Moscow, hanging Gay Pride flags on major government and administrative buildings in protest of the government’s oppressive policies on LGBTQ rights.

As part of this performance they released a manifesto including demands for investigations into the murder and dissapearance of LGBTQ people; an end to the harassment of LGBTQ activists and organisations; and laws preventing discrimination on the basis of gender and sexual orientation, including the legalisation of same-sex partnerships.

In May of 2021, Nikulshina started filming an art-documentary film, but police stormed the shooting, arrested and detained her. Upon her release she was almost immediately and violently re-arrested - along with her partner and fellow AR-Resident Roma Durov.

This clear campaign of political persecution and intimidation led them to decide to escape to Tbilisi, Georgia where they are hosted by Untitled Gallery at AR-Tbilisi.

Nikulshina was arrested by police again in Moscow on the 7th of May. Four officers detained Nikulshina near her apartment – with video of the incident shared on Telegram. Nikulshina’s lawyer said that she had been detained on suspicion of disobedience towards the police.

Veronika NikulshinaThe news agency Interfax cited the reason for her detainment as ‘to prevent possible provocations during rehearsals for a military parade’ ahead of a 9th of May’s Victory Day.

On Twitter, Pussy Riot said that Nikulshina had been arrested for 5 days. They wrote ‘Putin’s traditional values: to detain pussy riot members before the 9th of May (national holiday w military parades etc)’, and that Nikulshina had simply ‘walked out of her apt’ before being apprehended.

Nikulshina was among the Pussy Riot members who stormed the World Cup final in Moscow in 2018 in an anti-Kremlin protest. Her detainment followed a week-long hunger strike by the LGBTQ+ artist and activist Yulia Tsvetkova, who faces the possibility of a six-year prison sentence for ‘creating and distributing pornographic materials artwork she had drawn.

It was cited under Article 242 of Russia’s Criminal Code. Russian activist Pyotr Verzilov was one of four Pussy Riot members who invaded the pitch during this summer’s World Cup match between France and Croatia in Moscow.

A member of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot, Versilov ran on to the pitch during the World Cup final is in intensive care in hospital after losing his vision, speech and being unable to walk.

Fellow members of the group say they believe Pyotr Verzilov was poisoned.

“Our friend, brother, comrade Pyotr Verzilov is in reanimation,” Pussy Riot wrote on Twitter, using the common Russian translation for intensive care. “His life is in danger. We think that he was poisoned.”

Mr Verzilov's sickness was reported on Wednesday night, when another member of the group told the Russian-language news outlet Meduza that Mr Verzilov had suddenly fallen ill.

Over a period of two hours "he got worse exponentially", Veronika Nikulshina, a member of Pussy Riot who is in a relationship with Mr Verzilov, told Meduza. "First his sight, then his ability to speak, then even his ability to walk."

Mr Verzilov was one of four members of the group to invade the pitch, dressed in a police officer's uniform, during the World Cup final between France and Croatia.

It was part of a protest against Russian police brutality after a series of torture allegations were reported from prisons and police interrogation rooms across the country.

Mr Verzilov reportedly fell ill after Ms Nikulshina and another member of Pussy Riot attended a court hearing. Pyotr Verzilov has been involved in protest art in Russia for more than a decade, participating in both the Voina art collective and the formation of Pussy Riot.

He recently became the publisher of Mediazona, an independent Russian-language site founded by Pussy Riot members which focuses on court cases and conditions in Russian prisons.

Veronika NikulshinaRussia on Thursday declared Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a founding member of the Pussy Riot band, and prominent satirist Viktor Shenderovich "foreign agents" as authorities press ahead with a crackdown on dissent.

The justice ministry also added to its list of "foreign agents" six other figures including journalist Taisiya Bekbulatova, art collector Marat Gelman and Veronika Nikulshina, another Pussy Riot member.

"These people systematically distribute materials to an indefinite circle of persons, while receiving foreign funds," the ministry said in a statement.

Tolokonnikova, 32, is one of three members of Pussy Riot who were sentenced to two years in prison after they sang a "Punk Prayer" denouncing the Russian Orthodox Church's close ties with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow's central Church of Christ the Saviour in February 2012.

She and a bandmate were convicted and sentenced to jail in August 2012. Tolokonnikova said she would go to court and would not use the label of Foreign Agent as instructed by the government to post in all social media and press materials.

By law, entities identified as "foreign agents" must disclose sources of funding, undergo audits and accompany all their texts, videos and social media posts with a caption mentioning content from a "foreign agent".

"Lol," she said on Instagram. "The government can label their asses if they'd like," she said in English.

This status is reminiscent of the Soviet-era term "enemy of the people" and is meant to apply to people or groups that receive funding from abroad and are involved in any kind of "political activity".

Russia first introduced the term in legislation passed in 2012, but it applied to non-governmental groups before being expanded to media organisations in 2017 and individual journalists last year.

Critics say the label is used to silence Kremlin critics and make daily life difficult for them. The Kremlin says the measures are necessary because of increased interference from abroad with non-governmental groups and journalists exploited by outside actors to meddle in Russian affairs.

The "foreign agent" list currently contains 111 names.

A number of independent media outlets including Rain TV and Meduza, a popular Russian-language website, have previously been branded "foreign agents".

The past year has seen an unprecedented crackdown on dissent in Russia, including the jailing of Putin's top critic Alexei Navalny and outlawing his political organisations.

Navalny's team pointed out that some of the new additions to the "foreign agent" list were not journalists. "They simply are 'the enemies of the people' whose lives are being essentially ruined," the team stated on Twitter.

Veronika NikulshinaRussia's most prominent rights group Memorial -- also branded a "foreign agent" -- was this week ordered by courts to shut down over a number of alleged transgressions including failing to use on all its publications the "foreign agent" label and justifying terrorism and extremism.

These rulings were denounced by the United Nations, the United States and the European Union. Also on Thursday, Putin signed into law legislation that allows the state communications regulator to block any content which justifies extremism.

Nikulshina was sentenced to 3 days in prison on July 15th for insulting the police. She was released from custody on July 15th after being sentenced to 2 more days in prison.

Russian political activist and performance art group Pussy Riot is again facing jail time, with members Masha Alekhina, Sasha Sofiev, Ann Kuzminikh, and Veronika Nikulshina all currently behind bars.

When Alekhina was released from police custody after an initial stint in detention last week, police greeted her outside the detention center, escorting her directly into a police van and to another police station. She faces another 15 days in jail, and has shared video of the second arrest on social media.

Comparatively lucky, Sofiev had a full 24 hours between her release and a new arrest, and is now serving 10 days more. Kuzminikh was out for two days before being hit with another 10-day detention, and Nikulshina is serving a second consecutive 15-day term.

Another member, Lucy Shtein, is under curfew after being released from jail after 15 days, and cannot leave her house between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Alekhina and Shtein, who are a couple, each face up to two-year sentences, a representative for the collective told Artnet News in an email. The initial arrests were in June, according to the Moscow Times.

The charges against Pussy Riot members have reportedly included “petty hooliganism,” public swearing, and arguing with a police officer. “It’s not even required to protest to be arrested anymore,” Pussy Riot wrote on Twitter. “Apparently, we protest simply by existing.”

“Everyone asks what’s going on and what they want from us,” Shtein wrote on Instagram. “Honestly, we have no idea.”

“Pussy Riot members think that the government’s goal was to silence everyone ahead of the parliamentary elections on September 19th, 2021,” the representative said.

Alekhina, Shtein, and fellow collective member Viktoria Naraxsa were among those arrested at protests against the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in January. Later that month, Pussy Riot released a protest anthem, “Rage,” calling for the release of all political prisoners in Russia.

Veronika NikulshinaNikulshina was also arrested in May to “prevent possible provocations” at a dress rehearsal for a military parade making the 76th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Masha Alekhina, a member of the Russian punk band and protest group Pussy Riot, has been detained in Moscow for allegedly sharing a photo with Nazi imagery on social media in 2015. The arrest, for which she’s required to serve 15 days in jail, comes just before the activist was set to speak at a symposium on authoritarianism and art.

The picture, posted seven years ago, depicts three women in hijabs, one of which bears text that reads “Vodka Dudka Islam,” according to Mediazona, a Russian news outlet founded by Alekhina and fellow Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

On the sides of the image were swastikas, though in reposts the symbols had since been edited out, the Art Newspaper reported.

Alekhina was detained this past Monday upon leaving a meeting with an inspector at the Federal Penitentiary Service, where she’s required to check in regularly as one of the terms of a previous charge for promoting protests in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny last January.

“At the exit from the inspection there was already a police car,” the Pussy Riot member wrote in an Instagram post after the arrest. On Twitter, meanwhile, she posted a picture of the case file as well as one of herself flexing an arm muscle before a mirror. “15 days,” the caption for the latter read.

This is the second time in a period of three months Alekhina has been arrested for social media posts from 2015. In mid-December, she was similarly sentenced to 10 days of administrative detention for an old photo of Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko surrounded by swastikas.

In January of 2021, Alekhina was arrested for tweeting out information about a mass demonstration against the detainment of opposition leader Navalny. She was placed under pretrial house arrest on January 29th, a punishment that was renewed again in March, April, and June.

The activist remained under house arrest until September, when she was formally sentenced to one year of restricted freedom for her role in the Navalny protest. Because the event broke gathering laws related to the pandemic, the official charge was “inciting violations of sanitary restrictions.”

Alekhina’s “restricted freedom” sentence prevents her from traveling outside of Moscow, as well as from leaving her house after 10 p.m. and attending large group gatherings. She is required to meet with the corrections service twice a month.

After Second Arrest and Hearing, Pussy Riot Is Free (For Now) – Late last night, Pussy Riot confirmed via social media that, following a re-arrest and yet another hearing, four of its members had been freed (again). They had been detained for storming the field at the FIFA World Cup final with a performance called “Policeman Enters the Field.” The group will still have to appear in court and could get another 25 days in jail. Artist Marina Abramovic shared a video in solidarity with the group last week.

For the second time in a month, Nikulshina – a member of Pussy Riot, and activist who took part in the group’s World Cup protest – has been arrested by Moscow police. Nikulshina has been detained for at least seven hours by authorities, who detained her and nine others while they were in a friend’s home.

According to release provided by Pussy Riot, the police said Nikulshina was being questioned over an incident where “a group of young people damaged a piece of government property”. The Russian punk collective has called these claims “absurd”, and say no official charges have been filed.

Veronika Nikulshina“The police refuses to let Pussy Riot's lawyer see the detainees. They don't let the relatives give them food, although it is allowed by Russian law,” the group said in a statement. “While being detained, Nika started to feel sick, and the police had to call an ambulance for her.”

Back in July, Nikulshina was one of four Pussy Riot members who stormed the World Cup final pitch in police uniform, in protest against state control, police brutality, and the detainment of other activists. The protesters received 15-day sentences, as well as a three-year ban from sporting events in Russia. In the September following their action, participant Peter Verzilov was hospitalised after a suspected poisoning.

Last month, Nikulshina was arrested while on her way to a theatre awards ceremony in Moscow, where she had been nominated for an experimental, political show. The group claimed she had been detained temporarily to keep her away from the event, where Russian authorities and politicians were in attendance.

Nikulshina will reportedly be detained by police overnight. Pussy Riot fears she will remain in police custody during the Russian holidays, from May 9th to the12th.

Since Nikulshina’s initial arrest, her friend and ally Alexandra Albova was detained with her boyfriend Ilya by police upon leaving their apartment May 9th, according to information provided by Pussy Riot to Dazed.

They were brought to the police station with no charges filed – according to Pussy Riot, the officers from the Central Moscow police unit were primarily asking question about Nikulshina’s activities.

Albova and her boyfriend have since been freed. Nikulshina and the four other detained persons were later also freed from custody.

Veronika Nikulshina, aka Nika of activist-artist collective Pussy Riot, was arrested as she made her way to the Golden Mask awards in Moscow where she was nominated for an award for experimental theater show Poe.Tri.

Nika was accompanied by Alexey Yershov and Maxim Karnaukhov, who were also nominated for the award alongside her.

According to Pussy Riot, who said very little is known about why she was taken in: "Right at the exit from their apartment Nika, Alexey and Maxim were arrested before going to the Golden Mask theatre awards at the Bolshoi Theatre - the main theatre award in Russia, where all three were officially nominated and invited.

Police said they need to take them in for a certain check up." The group added that "no reasons" were given other than to check documents, but theorizes that the trio was kept away due to government officials' attendance at the awards ceremony. The three have since been released.


Editor Note: It's difficult to ascertain the current status of Pussy Riot or of any of the women that comprised it. It seems the Russian government has it's hands full with handling the media attention explosion that is generated by the war waged on the Ukraine and Pussy Riot has always been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin - one that he hasn't the time or energy for at the present moment. So, anything online attributed by official sources may be mis-information to keep the women of Pussy Riot out of his hair for the moment.



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