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Pyotr Pavlensky

Dissident Russian Artist Allegedly Suffers Cracked Ribs After Beating by Police

“Every breath gives me pain,” Pyotr Pavlensky asserted in a handwritten letter that was posted to Facebook by his partner Oksana Shalygina. Pavlensky’s lawyer, Dmitry Dinze, confirmed that a guard beat him on May 16 while the artist was being shuttled back to jail after a court hearing, allegedly breaking some of the artist’s ribs. A full hearing for Pavlensky’s trial is scheduled for today.

Last November, Pavlensky was arrested for a performance work titled Threat, which involved splashing a door of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation building in Moscow with gasoline and setting it aflame. Pavlensky faces three years in prison for, according to Australia’s YahooNews, “damaging a cultural heritage site.” A representative of the Moscow City Court, Ulyana Solopova, told various Russian news services that the court cannot be held accountable for the transportation of defendants back to prison—this responsibility falls entirely on the police. Pavlensky is currently incarcerated in Moscow’s Medvedkovo Prison.

The artist’s plight, however, has been noticed. He, along with Uzbek photojournalist Umida Akhmedova and Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani, received the Vaclav Havel International Prize this month “for creative dissent.” The prize was created by the Human Rights Foundation, which is based in the United States.

Artforum.com has been keeping track of Pavlensky’s troubles with the Russian authorities since November 2013, when he nailed his scrotum to the cobblestones of Moscow’s Red Square in protest of Russia’s police-state thuggery. He has created other protest artworks since.

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