Rus­sian artist ar­rested af­ter start­ing fire at se­cu­rity HQ

Pavlen­sky has his­tory of ex­treme po­lit­i­cal protest

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MOSCOW: One of Rus­sia’s most rad­i­cal po­lit­i­cal per­for­mance artists was de­tained in Moscow yes­ter­day af­ter briefly set­ting fire to the en­trance of the head­quar­ters of the FSB se­cu­rity ser­vice, the suc­ces­sor to the Soviet KGB. Video footage showed Py­otr Pavlen­sky stand­ing on Moscow’s sto­ried Lubyanka Square in front of the build­ing where po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers were in­ter­ro­gated in the Soviet era as flames licked around its en­trance, scorch­ing parts of two heavy wooden doors. Pavlen­sky, 31, was shown hold­ing a petrol can and star­ing out onto the dark­ened square be­fore a po­lice­man grabbed him. His lawyer later told the In­ter­fax news agency that Pavlen­sky was be­ing held in a Moscow po­lice sta­tion and might be charged with ar­son.

Un­named law en­force­ment sources con­firmed Pavlen­sky’s de­ten­tion, say­ing he could be charged with petty hooli­gan­ism, an of­fence that usu­ally car­ries a fine and a jail term of up to 15 days. Two jour­nal­ists film­ing his ac­tions said they were briefly de­tained be­fore be­ing re­leased. In a script ac­com­pa­ny­ing the video of the in­ci­dent, which was re­leased from one of his own so­cial me­dia ac­counts de­spite his de­ten­tion, Pavlen­sky said his ac­tion was called “Threat” and meant to draw at­ten­tion to what he called the ter­ror tac­tics em­ployed by the se­cu­rity agency.

“Fear turns free peo­ple into a sticky mass of un­co­or­di­nated bod­ies,” he said. “The threat of in­evitable reprisal hangs over ev­ery­one who can be tracked with de­vices, have their con­ver­sa­tions lis­tened to, and who faces bor­ders with pass­port con­trol,” he wrote. Pavlen­sky has at­tracted at­ten­tion be­fore, car­ry­ing out ex­treme acts which he says are de­signed to poke holes in the Krem­lin’s pro­pa­ganda ma­chine and draw at­ten­tion to so­ci­ety’s prob­lems.

MOSCOW: 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 yes­ter­day.

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