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3 Aug, 2018 13:28

Self-exiled Russian performer placed ‘in disciplinary cell’ at French prison

Self-exiled Russian performer placed ‘in disciplinary cell’ at French prison

A controversial artist famous for nailing his scrotum to Red Square has been reportedly placed in a disciplinary cell at a French prison, where he is awaiting trial for setting the doors of the nation’s central bank on fire.

Pyotr Pavlensky, who fled Russia after several protest performances and received asylum in France only to be charged with vandalizing public property, has been punished by French authorities, his partner Oksana Shalygina said on Facebook.

Pavlensky earned international notoriety for several protest actions in Russia involving self-harm. On various occasions he sewed his mouth shut, laid naked in a cocoon of barbed wire, cut off a piece of his ear and nailed his scrotum to the pavement of Red Square. All his actions were aimed at protesting policies of the Russian government.

One of his latest performances involved pouring gasoline on the doors of the national security service FSB and setting them on fire. A Russian court sentenced Pavlensky to a heavy fine for the vandalism, but allowed him to keep his freedom.

In February 2017 the performer and his family fled Russia (without paying the fine) and asked for political asylum in France, which was granted. He claimed the Russian authorities fabricated a new criminal case against him in revenge for his protest. Some media reports in Russia alleged he and Shalygina committed a sexual assault on another woman, but no charges against either of them were placed.

In October of the same year he repeated his door-and-gasoline stunt at the Bank of France. French authorities were apparently less appreciative of his artistic ambitions, since Pavlensky was placed in pretrial custody and has been kept there ever since. The continued detention was explained by his having psychological problems.

According to Shalygina, Pavlensky has been placed in a disciplinary cell this week. She cited a message from him as saying: “I’ve been placed into a disciplinary cell for refusing to withstand humiliations. On August 1, there was a series of provocations from the wardens. In the end, they got what they wanted and put me in the disciplinary cell.”

For the ‘performance’ in France, Pavlensky reportedly faces a fine of up to €150,000 and a jail term of up to 10 years. The same actions in Russia resulted in a fine of about €13,500. The many supporters of Pavlensky who demanded the protection of his artistic rights while he was still in Russia, have mostly been silent about his current predicament.

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