Czech Police Detain Founding Member of Voina Art Collective for Hooliganism in Russia

Artist Oleg Vorotnikov, a founding member of the Voina art collective, which is known for painting a giant phallus on a drawbridge facing the Federal Security Service headquarters in Saint Petersburg, as well as for overturning police cars as part of an action, was detained in Prague on September 18, the Prague Daily Monitor reports.

Vorotnikov faces charges of hooliganism and breach of the peace in Russia, for which he can be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison. If convicted for committing violence against authorities he could face up to ten years. Czech authorities have initiated extradition proceedings for him and his wife, Natalya Sokol, who fled Russia in 2011 with their family after a warrant was issued for their arrest due to their involvement in Voina.

“We will seek political asylum in the Czech Republic and will strive for Vorotnikov to stay there for a long time and not to be extradited to Russia,” his defense lawyer Radim Kozub said.

Vorotnikov and Sokol originally applied for asylum in Switzerland, but will withdraw the application so that they can stay in the Czech Republic.