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World Cup 2018: Pussy Riot protesters jailed for pitch invasion

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Emily Reynolds
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Pussy Riot are well known for their political actions – and this time, they took on the World Cup. 

Political group Pussy Riot took to the pitch of the World Cup final this Sunday, in a stunt they said was intended to “bring attention to political injustices” in their home country of Russia. 

Four of the group’s members stormed the pitch during the Croatia versus France game at the Luzhniki Stadium – all dressed as police officers.

One member when received a high five from French footballer Kylian Mbappe before they were escorted from the pitch.

The group later released a statement explaining why they’d undertaken the action, as well as listening demands including letting “all political prisoners free”, not imprisoning people for their social media activity, not arresting people on political rallies, allowing “political competition” in the country, and “not fabricating criminal accusations and keeping people in jails for no reason”.  

The group first came to prominence in 2012, when it performed a protest song in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour; several members of the group were subsequently charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred”, spending two years in prison. 

Political prisoners have long been a focus for the group’s activism. 

Speaking to Stylist in 2016, member Maria Alyokhina stressed that many political activists were being unfairly detained in Russia. “He didn’t do anything, he didn’t do any crime,” she said, referring to filmmaker Oleg Sentsov. “He’s just a hero of this time.” 

“It’s necessary to do something about the resistance of artists against authorities, because in our opinion it’s not a problem with [Russia] solely,” she said. “It’s a problem that exists everywhere, because authorities are always framed by the laws and rules they produce themselves.”

Supporters of the group took to social media to express solidarity with the group after the incident. 

As of writing, four members of the activist group have been jailed for 15 days, according to BBC News. The group have been charged for “violation of spectators’ rights” and illegally wearing police uniforms. 

They have also been banned from attending sports events for three years.

Images: Getty