Radical performance artist who started fire at Russian FSB HQ entrance set free on bail

Artist Pyotr Pavlensky © Alexey Kudenko
Notorious Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky, jailed after setting fire to the main entrance of the Federal Security Service’s (FSB) headquarters in Moscow, has been released from detention and slapped with a $7,800 fine.

Controversial artist Pavlensky, from St. Petersburg, was found guilty of “damaging cultural heritage” after he set on fire the wooden doors of the FSB’s Lubyanka building last November, a Moscow court ruled on Wednesday.

The arguments of the defense were found to be inconsistent and the artist had no criminal intention, the court said.

Pavlensky is to pay 500,000 rubles ($7,800) for carrying out the protest action titled ‘Ugroza’ (Threat) and was fined an additional 480,000 rubles ($7,500) for a new door. The sum was reduced from 2 million rubles (over $30,000) since Pavlensky is a father of two and had already spent time in detention.

The artist, however, seems reluctant to abide by the court’s ruling and has refused to pay the penalty.

“I won't do it. Otherwise it's like the Ugroza act was carried out on credit, as if I bought it from the FSB,” Pavlensky told reporters.

READ MORE: Shock artist Pavlensky sets Russian security service HQ door on fire

Pavlensky also addressed his supporters, asking them not to raise money to pay the fine.

If he doesn’t comply with the court’s decision, Pavlensky could face a stricter punishment, including confinement.

Back in November, the artist showed up at the FSB headquarters in downtown Moscow early in the morning with a canister of petrol accompanied by two journalists. The fire was quickly put out and the doors suffered no significant damage.

The performance artist gained worldwide fame after nailing his scrotum to Moscow’s Red Square in November 2013 and for cutting a part of his earlobe while sitting naked on the roof of a psychiatric institute in Moscow in October 2014.