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Those watching the FIFA World Cup’s final match on TV may have barely noticed because producers immediately turned their cameras away from the field, but there was a pitch invasion during the game between France and Croatia. Veronica Nikulshina, Olga Kurachova, Pyotr Verzilov and Olga Pakhtusova, all members of the Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot, managed to run onto the field at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Dressed as police officers, they interrupted the game in the 52nd minute, forcing the referee to suspend play until stewards wrestled the activists off the field. The invasion happened as Russian President Vladimir Putin watched from the stands.

As confirmed by Pussy Riot’s official Twitter account, Nikulshina, Kurachova, Verzilov and Pakhtusova were arrested and placed under fifteen days of administration detention. They have also been banned from attending sporting events for three years. A Russian court threw out the appeal by the activist group and upheld the 15-day sentences in police cells for breaching rules for spectators, AFP reported.

According to its official Facebook page, Pussy Riot’s protest action was inspired by “Policemen Enters the Game,” a poem by famed Russian writer Dimitriy Prigov. In the poem, the “earthly” policeman is contrasted with the “heavenly policeman,” who carries Russia’s “heavenly nationhood”:

The heavenly policeman, according to Prigov, talks on the two-way with the God Himself. The earthly policeman gets ready to disperse rallies. The heavenly policeman gently touches a flower in a field and enjoys Russian football team victories, while the earthly policeman feels indifferent to Oleg Sentsov’s hunger strike. The heavenly policeman rises as an example of the nationhood, the earthly policeman hurts everyone.

The heavenly policeman protects baby’s sleep, the earthly policeman persecutes political prisoners, imprisons people for “reposts” and “likes”.

Pussy Riot gained global notoriety after five members launched into a “punk prayer” inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior on February 21, 2012. Screaming “Shit! Shit! The Lord’s shit!” they pierced the sacred air of the church with their fists. Notorious for their imaginative costumes and flashmob demonstrations, Pussy Riot has been a staunch critic of President Putin, whom they view as a dictator. Since 2011, the group has also staged unauthorized, provocative guerrilla performances in public places, on issues ranging from feminism to LGBTQ rights.

During this latest protest, the group demanded, among other things, the release of all political prisoners, an end to illegal arrests during protest rallies, and competitive elections. They also insisted that Russian authorities “turn the earthly policeman into the heavenly policeman.”

It is almost certain Putin was not amused by Pussy Riot’s attempt at spoiling his party while the world was watching. It is also doubtful he will ever turn into the heavenly policeman, the group presumably hopes for.

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