Hooliganism charge for performance artist Pavlensky

Hooliganism charge for performance artist Pavlensky
RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Belousov

15 November 2013
Text Samuel Crews

Artist Pyotr Pavlensky, who last Sunday nailed his scrotum to the paving stones of Moscow’s Red Square, could face the criminal charge of hooliganism, Interfax reports, citing a police source. After the protest action, which was entitled Fixation and aimed against apathy and political repression, Pavlensky was charged with disorderly conduct; however, the case was later taken up by the police. He is currently on bail.

Under Russian law, hooliganism is an act motivated by political, ideological, racial, ethnic or religious hatred, or hatred and hostility towards a particular social group. It carries a maximum penalty of five years. The same charge of hooliganism — reduced from piracy — has also been brought against the Greenpeace activists currently held in Murmansk after protesting arctic drilling

Explaining his actions, Pavlensky has previously said: “The performance can be seen as a metaphor for the apathy, political indifference and fatalism of contemporary Russian society. As the government turns the country into one big prison, stealing from the people and using the money to grow and enrich the police apparatus and other repressive structures, society is allowing this, and forgetting its numerical advantage, is bringing the triumph of the police state closer by its inaction.”

Art curator Marat Guelman, speaking to The Calvert Journal yesterday, said: “His action was not aimed at those in power, who, paradoxically, saved him – it was them who took him off the nail. It was a message to society; we all more or less share his position. People have been forced into a corner – the choice is between leaving, going to prison, or joining up with those in power.”