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Russian Artist Pyotr Pavlensky Wins Asylum in France

After dissident Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky and his family fled to France following sexual assault allegations against him and his partner, Oksana Shalygina, Pavlensky obtained political refugee status, allowing him to remain in the country, AFP reports.

The couple and their two children left Russia in January after actress Anastasia Slonina accused them of attempting to rape her in her Saint Petersburg apartment. Pavlensky and Shalygina said their relationship with the celebrity was consensual and believe she was pressured to file a complaint by Russia’s security services.

Pavlensky and Shalygina were detained at a Moscow airport on December 14, 2016, as they returned from a trip to Warsaw. They were interrogated and then released. Pavlensky said that during questioning they were given two options: leave Russia or endure ten years in a prison camp. They left the country the following day.

“For me to submit to doing time, to go with all the humility of a sheep to the slaughter, would only help the state,” Pavelnsky told the Russian media outlet Hromadske. “I do not agree with that under any circumstances.” The artist claims that the Russian government has been trying to find a way to remove him from the cultural scene for years.