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Pyotr Pavlensky

Russian Artist Pyotr Pavlensky Convicted of Vandalism in Moscow

A Moscow court found Russian dissident artist Pyotr Pavlensky guilty of vandalism today, Dimitri Kozlov of the Associated Press reports. The artist was convicted for setting fire to car tires on Saint Petersburg’s Tripartite Bridge during a pro-Ukraine performance, titled Freedom, in February 2014.

While the court sentenced Pavlensky to sixteen months in prison, the artist will not have to serve the time because the statue of limitations on the crime has expired. However, he remains in custody for a second case in which he is being tried for burning the doors of a former KGB building in November 2015.

According to the Art Newspaper, prosecutor Anton Sizov said that the doors of the Federal Security Service in Moscow’s Lubyanka Square are a cultural heritage site because in the 1930s “leading figures of science and culture were imprisoned here.” Historian and architectural preservationist, Natalia Samovar, told Gazeta.ru that the doors don’t qualify for cultural heritage status since they are a replica made in 2008. If convicted for damaging a cultural heritage site, Pavlensky could receive up to six years in prison.

The artist was allegedly beaten by police, who supposedly cracked his ribs, as he was being transported from a hearing back to jail on May 16, as artforum.com previously reported. His partner, Oksana Shalygina, posted a handwritten letter Pavlensky wrote on Facebook in which he said, “Every breath gives me pain.”

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