Pyotr Pavlensky

Russian Artist Pyotr Pavlensky Seeks Asylum in France Following Rape Allegations

Russian dissident artist Pyotr Pavlensky is applying for political asylum in France for himself, as well as for his partner, Oksana Shalygina, and their two daughters, after actress Anastasia Slonina accused the couple of attempting to rape her in her Saint Petersburg apartment, Katie Davies of the Moscow Times reports.

Pavlensky and Shalygina claim that their relations with the Russian actress were consensual and allege that Slonina was prompted to file a complaint by Russia’s security services in an attempt to remove Pavlensky from the country’s cultural scene. If the couple is convicted, they could face up to ten years in prison.

“We have only two options: to either spend our time in jail or head beyond the Russian borders. For me to submit to doing time, to go with all the humility of a sheep to the slaughter, would only help the state. I do not agree with that under any circumstances,” Pavlensky told the Russian media outlet Hromadske.

He added, “All of these years, the regime has trying to prove that I am a criminal or a madman—not an artist, but the destroyer of cultural values. The state machine has been able to execute this play successfully. But we will be careful, and life will show who has the last word.”

Vsevolod Lisowski, a producer and writer at the Teatr.doc group, said that he has video footage of Pavlensky beating an actor who tried to confront the artist after he began to take an interest in Slonina. Apparently, the actor arranged to meet with Pavlensky, who drove up with three other people and attacked the man.

Pavlensky is best known for his extreme performance art. The anti-Putin activist has sewn his mouth shut to protest the arrest of members of the Russian band Pussy Riot, hammered a nail through his scrotum in Moscow’s Red Square in a demonstration against annual police day, and most recently, set fire to the doors of Lubyanka’s Federal Security Service headquarters during a performance titled Threat.