Founding Members of Voina Art Collective Await Extradition Proceedings in Prague

The controversial artists are seeking asylum in the Czech Republic.

Oleg Vorotnikov. Photo by Thomas Peter.

Russian activist artists, anarchists, and married couple Oleg Vorotnikov and Natalia Sokol are facing charges of hooliganism, offense to officials, and violence against officials, reports the Czech Monitor. The couple and one of their children was arrested in Prague on September 18, after fleeing Russia to avoid arrest. Vorotnikov is listed on Interpol’s wanted persons list for charges of “insult of a representative of the authority,” and “using violence against the representative of the authority.”

All three were released the following week, but Vorotnikov was forced to provide a written promise that he would not leave the country, and attend extradition hearings. The family was seeking asylum in the Czech Republic, after withdrawing asylum applications in Switzerland. In Prague, they were initially sheltered by Czech artist collective Ztohoven; however, the group officially ceased support due to ideological disagreements, according to a post on a blog maintained by friends of Voina.

Natalia Sokol and Oleg Vorotnikov. Photo by Thomas Peter.

Natalia Sokol and Oleg Vorotnikov. Photo by Thomas Peter.

According to the same blog, Sokol has been a fugitive since August 2011. She was charged with “insult of a representative of power” in association with a St. Petersburg opposition rally on March 31, 2011. It is unclear to what extent Sokol was involved in dousing police officers with urine.

Vorotnikov faces charges for involvement in the same rally, as well as participation in an art action called “Palace Revolution,” where he and a number of other Voina members overturned a police car. Kasper, Vorotnikov, and Sokol’s young son, kicked a ball underneath the car, and the artists worked under the guise of retrieving it.

If Vorotnikov is charged, he could face up to 15 years in prison and correctional work. Sokol, who has been living without identification since 2010, could face corrective labor. The Prague Monitor reported that Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikan would likely not extradite the artists.

Voina is a radical left-wing anarchist collective, founded in 2005. Over the years, Voina actions have involved over 200 activists, including Pussy Riot members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich.

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