Russian Prosecutor Asks for $23,000 Fine for Activist Artist Pavlensky Instead of Labor Colony

June 6, 2016
Artist Pyotr Pavlensky being brought to court by bailiffs in April 2016. Screen grab from Grani.ru TV

LIVE UPDATES: A Russian prosecutor has asked that Pyotr Pavlensky, an activist artist who set fire to the doors of the Federal Security Service (FSB) on Lubyanka Square last year be given only a 1.5 million fine ($22,942) and not jail time.

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Russian Prosecutor Asks for $23,000 Fine for Jailed Artist Pavlensky Instead of Labor Colony

During a trial at Moscow’s Meshchansky Court, a prosecutor has asked that Pyotr Pavlensky, an activist artist who set fire to the doors of the Federal Security Service (FSB) on Lubyanka Square last year, be given only a 1.5 million fine ($22,942) and not jail time, Newsru.com reported¬†citing RIA Novosti.
Pavlensky burned the doors on November 7, 2015, the old Soviet Revolution Day, in a sign of protest against increasing oppression symbolized by the Lubyanka building, which has housed the variously-named secret police over the years.
The prosecutor said that the judge should take into account that Pavlensky has two small children and also his positive character evaluation. He suggested a fine of 2 million rubles (about $30,000 USD), which should be reduced taking into account time served in pre-trial detention. Pavlensky was subjected to psychiatric evaluation for a month at the Serbsky Institute and pronounced fit to stand trial.
The sentence is expected to be handed down on June 8.
Originally, Pavlensky was charged with “vandalism motivated by ideological hatred.” Then, at the FSB’s behest, Pavlensky has been charged with “destruction or damage of objects of cultural heritage.” The FSB argued that because famous figures like the theater director and actor Vsevolod Meyherhold were interrogated and executed at the Lubyanka, this made the building a historical treasure. The FSB seeks 481,000 rubles in damages ($7,362).

The different official positions on the prosecution of Pavlensky could reflect a rivalry between different siloviki (force ministries) or a desire not to turn Pavlensky into a martyr and attract more protesters, or even, as with the case of Ukrainian soldier Nadiya Savchenko’s release, to appear magnanimous at a time when in fact the state is creating even more political prisoners.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick¬†