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Charges Against Russian Performance Artist Pyotr Pavlensky Changed from Vandalism to Cultural Heritage Damage

After previously having his detention in prison lengthened in connection with setting a part of a federal Russian security agency building on fire, Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky has now had the charges against him altered by Russian investigators from vandalism to “damaging a cultural heritage site,” according to his lawyer Dmitry Dinze and reported by Agence France-Presse at art daily. Pavlensky will still face up to three years in jail, which remains the maximum sentence possible for his crime even after the switch in charges being pressed. The artist was initially charged with “ideologically-motivated” vandalism, and the new charge pertains to damage or destruction of government-listed buildings and areas of natural beauty. The FSB headquarters which Pavlensky set fire to the doors of is housed in a building which predates the 1917 revolution. A judge maintained last year that the cost of replacing the door was an estimated 55,000 rubles, or about $800.

Dinze noted he only heard of the new charge a day before a Tuesday hearing at Moscow City Court, during which a judge rejected Pavlensky’s latest appeal against his detention. Pavlensky, for his part, has repeatedly requested that his case be reclassified as terrorism, citing the case of Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, convicted last year on terror charges over arson attacks on pro-Kremlin party offices in the Crimea region.