Pyotr Verzilov: Anti-Putin activist ‘disappears’ from Moscow flat

A prominent Russian opposition figure vanished from his apartment on Sunday morning after messaging colleagues to say that his door was being broken down.

Pyotr Verzilov, occasional manager of punk collective Pussy Riot and publisher of the independent MediaZona publication, went incommunicado after sending the message at 7.16am. A short while later, his landlord arrived at his Moscow home to find that locks on the door had been destroyed, with no one inside.

Speaking to Russian media, neighbours reported seeing approximately 10 men attempting to gain entry to the apartment. Two of the men were wearing police uniform, they said. The local police service has denied sending anyone.

Shortly after midday, a pro-Kremlin social media network published a photo that seemed to show Mr Verzilov in his home looking through documents, with an unidentified man sitting alongside him.

“A doctor dropped by to see Verzilov, but he didn’t want to open the door,” read the caption, timestamped 1.15pm. There is no information about the source of the photo.

Sergei Smirnov, MediaZona’s editor, said friends and colleagues had no other information about his whereabouts. He suggested Mr Verzilov’s strange disappearance was directly connected to his work.

Over many years Mr Verzilov has delighted in irritating the Kremlin and Russia’s conservative wing.

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