July 31, 2018 / 9:48 AM / 5 months ago

Russian World Cup pitch invaders held on new charges

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Four members of Russia’s Pussy Riot protest group who were jailed for 15 days for staging a pitch invasion during the soccer World Cup final were detained again after their release on Monday and were held overnight, their lawyer said on Tuesday.

Intruders affiliated to anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot, Veronika Nikulshina and Olga Kurachyova, who ran onto the pitch during the World Cup final between France and Croatia, walk out of a detention center after leaving 15-day jail in Moscow, Russia July 30, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

The members of the group face new charges of staging a public event without having prior permission, an offense that carries a jail sentence of up to 10 days or a fine of up to 30,000 roubles ($481.21), Russian news agencies reported.

Nikolai Vasilyev, the group’s lawyer, said police had not yet allowed him to see the case materials, and he was unable to confirm what charges his clients faced, or when a court hearing would be held.

The activists briefly interrupted the soccer World Cup final on July 15 when they ran onto the pitch in police uniforms.

Their intrusion onto the pitch in Moscow’s main stadium in front of President Vladimir Putin and other high-ranking officials marked a rare security breach in the weeks-long soccer tournament hosted by Russia.

The group said the 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.

The four pitch invaders were jailed for 15 days for the stunt and were banned from sporting events for three years.

The four members were Veronika Nikulshina, Olga Pakhtusova, Olga Kurachyova and Pyotr Verzilov.

Tournament organizers said the stewards who failed to stop the intrusion would face disciplinary action.

($1 = 62.2943 roubles)

Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Christian Lowe

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