Russian Dissident Artist Pyotr Pavlensky Assaulted by Guards

The assault took place while he was transported from the court.

Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky, accused of vandalism after torching the doors to the headquarters of the FSB security service, stands inside a defendants' cage during a hearing at a court in Moscow on November 10, 2015. Photo: DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV/AFP/Getty Images
Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky, accused of vandalism after torching the doors to the headquarters of the FSB security service, stands inside a defendants' cage during a hearing at a court in Moscow on November 10, 2015.
Photo: Dmitry Serbryakov/AFP/Getty Images

Pyotr Pavlensky, the Russian performance artist currently being detained ahead of trial in Russia, is claiming to have been beaten by prison guards in a handwritten letter published via his girlfriend Oksana Shalygina, on Facebook.

Pavlensky, who recently refused the government’s efforts to close one of the two cases he is currently on trial for, claims he was assaulted while being transported to or from the Moscow City Court.

“As I write these lines, my knee has been injured, I have a cracked rib and internal bruising…. Every breath gives me pain,” Pavlensky wrote in the letter published by Shalygina on Facebook, as reported by AFP.

The post goes on to directly accuse the convoy guards of Moscow City Court and then give the badge number of the “beast” responsible.

However, Moscow City Court stated to AFP that they took no responsibility for what happens while prisoners were being transported to and from the court, as it is the responsibility of the police.

Pavlensky’s lawyer Dmitry Dinze confirmed the artist had been assaulted by a single guard and said that lawyers would try and identify the man in question.

Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky poses after setting fire to the doors of the headquarters of the FSB security service, the successor to the KGB, in central Moscow early on November 9, 2015.Photo: Nigina Beroeva/AFP/Getty Images.

Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky poses after setting fire to the doors of the headquarters of the FSB security service, the successor to the KGB, in central Moscow early on November 9, 2015.
Photo: Nigina Beroeva/AFP/Getty Images.

Pavlensky is currently on trial on a recently altered vandalism charge for his performance Freedom in 2014 in which he burnt tires evoking the pro-Western rallies taking place in Kiev at the time. He also faces a charge of “damaging of a cultural site” for his performance Threat (2016) in which he set fire to the doors of the Federal Security Service’s headquarters.

Pavlensky, in his intention to expose the Russian justice system, brought sex workers into the courtroom to testify against him in a hearing in the Freedom vandalism case last month. Due to the statute of limitations in Russia, he will not see jail time if convicted.

The dissident artist—who has also cut off a part of his earlobe and nailed his scrotum to the cobbles of the Red Square in protest of the Russian Government—was awarded the Vaclav Havel international prize “for creative dissent” on May 5. The award was given by the American organization Human Rights Foundation (HRF) and is shared by Pavlensky with Uzbeck photojournalist Umida Akhmedova, and Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani.


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