Russian Activists Face Jail for Painting Moscow Building
They painted its 577-foot-high star in Ukrainian colors.
This past Wednesday, residents of Moscow awoke to a surprising new addition to their city’s skyline: The star that tops one of the 577-foot-tall, Stalin-era Seven Sisters towers had been painted in Ukraine’s national colors. Now, according to the Guardian, four individuals have been charged with vandalism and hooliganism in connection to the event. The latter is the same charge that was waged against three members of Pussy Riot following a protest in a Moscow church in 2012.
The incident is said to have taken place around dawn on Wednesday, August 20. The golden star was first doused in light blue paint such that it resembled the Ukrainian flag. An actual Ukrainian flag was then attached atop the star, reportedly at around 7:15 a.m Moscow time.
It was taken down some three hours thereafter.
In a display of solidarity, Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova tweeted “They’re heroes, of course,” along with a photo of the painted star.
The action also caught the attention of Ukraine’s current president, Petro Poroshenko. In a video intended to spur national pride ahead of Ukraine’s independence day on Sunday, he said “I really liked that on the eve of the Ukrainian flag day they repainted a high-rise in Moscow in our colors. I congratulate these Ukrainians.”
The four alleged perpetrators—Yevgeniya Korotkova, Anna Lepyoshkina, Alexander Pogrebov and Alexei Shirokozhukhov—are currently being held under house arrest. They could face jail time if convicted of the crimes alleged against them.
Speaking in court on behalf of the group, Pogrebov claimed that they were innocent. He said that they were attempting to base jump from the building, located on Moscow’s Kotelnicheskaya embankment. “At the same time someone had coincidentally painted the star and hung the flag,” Pogrebov reportedly explained.
Though Pogrebov’s account may sound far-fetched, an anonymous roofer on social media who presents himself as Mustang Wanted came to their defense. He posted on Facebook, saying that he had painted the tower “in an outburst of genuine patriotic feelings.” The post is accompanied by a picture of Mustang Wanted standing atop the star during what looks to be the early morning hours.
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