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Members of Russian Art Group Voina Arrested

Members of Russian Art Group Voina Arrested

Members of the Russian conceptual art group Voina ("War") have recently been arrested in Moscow for one of their performances. The are facing a possible sentence of up to 7 years in prison for "aggravated hooliganism" resulting from one of their recent actions.

Members of the famous elusive protest art group Voina were hunted down and arrested in Moscow on November 15. Voina refuses to cooperate with any official state or commercial art institutions and is known for its funny anti-state and anti-police actions. Members of the group played an important role in the defense of the Khimki forest and against the recent persecutions of Russian Khimki activists.

On September 16, Voina overturned a police car in Saint-Petersburg, near the historical St Michael's Castle, where the Russian emperor Paul I was killed during a royal overthrow in the year 1801. During the action, which they called "Royal Overthrow", the artists locked the cops inside the castle, by putting a bike chain on the gate. The group explained that they wanted to bring public attention to the corruption within the Russian Interior Ministry and the police authorities, as well as to show, how the corrupt practices of the police can be resisted by people's direct actions.

Video of the action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ue_Wd2AjKAI

The group also claimed responsibility for overturning a few more police cars in Saint-Petersburg the same night, including two cars with totally drunk cops inside, who didn't even understand what's happening.

Two artists – Leonid Nikolayev and Oleg Vorotnikov – are now in a St' Petersburg jail for 2 months, awaiting trial for "aggravated hooliganism" pitched as a conspiracy and a hate crime against the police. A third detained member of the group, Natalia Sokol, was released. Voina accepts the $3,500 fine for damaging the police car at the castle, though Alexey Plutcer-Sarno, one the group's leaders, reported that an official police source had estimated the total damage as low as $30. But the artists are facing now up to 7 years of inhumane Russian jail, which seems to be a disproportionate personal vengeance of the police. The group is well known in Russia for its humorous, non-violent performances, which anger and embarrass the authorities, but never cause harm to anyone.

Despite the arrest of one of Voina’s main organizers, the group promises to continue its radical performances: "An artist can’t shut up and stop doing their work."

Alexey Plucer-Sarno's detailed report about the action "Royal Overthrow" (in Russian):


To help the group (bank accounts and contact information):