Dissident Artist Pyotr Pavlensky Found Guilty by Moscow Court

Despite the conviction, he won't serve prison time.

Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky smiles during a hearing at a court in Moscow on February 26, 2016.Photo: Dmitry Serebryakov/AFP/Getty Images.
Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky smiles during a hearing at a court in Moscow on February 26, 2016.
Photo: Dmitry Serebryakov/AFP/Getty Images.

Despite being found guilty of vandalism by a Moscow court, the controversial Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky has dodged a prison sentence. The charges relate to his controversial Freedom (2014) performance, during which the artist set alight tires on a Saint Petersburg Bridge in protest against Russia’s occupation of Crimea.

The artist will remain in custody to face vandalism charges relating to a separate anti-government performance in which he set fire to the door of the Russian intelligence service headquarters.

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. Courtesy of Nigina Beroeva/AFP/Getty Images.

The artist—known for his extreme and deeply political performances—was originally sentenced to one year and four months behind bars, but avoided serving the sentence because the statute of limitations for criminal responsibility relating the case had expired, according to the Moscow Times.

During the trial, the artist reportedly sat in silence and refused to answer questions because the court dismissed his demand to classify his performances as acts of terrorism. Referring to his he ruling notes the artist’s participation “in a group that violated ethical and moral norms.”

Pyotr Pavlensky after cutting his earlobe off last Sunday, on the roof of Moscow’s Serbsky psychiatric centerPhoto via: Oksana Shalygina's Facebook

Pyotr Pavlensky after cutting his earlobe off last Sunday, on the roof of Moscow’s Serbsky psychiatric center. Courtesy of Oksana Shalygina’s Facebook page.

The 32-year-old artist has previously made headlines for cutting off a part of his ear with a kitchen knife while naked, sewing his own mouth shut, nailing his scrotum to the cobblestones of Moscow’s Red Square, and making his interrogator flip. Most recently, he claimed to have been assaulted by prison guards whilst being held captive ahead of his trial.


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