Russian activist Pavlensky guilty over tyre-burning protest

Pyotr Pavlensky in court, 26 Feb 16 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Pavlensky says he is protesting against official use of fear and intimidation

A Moscow court has convicted a Russian artist and political activist for a tyre-burning protest in support of the Ukrainian Maidan democracy movement.

Pyotr Pavlensky was sentenced to a year and four months for his February 2014 protest on a St Petersburg bridge.

He will not serve it because of legal delays during the "vandalism" case.

But he remains in custody because he set fire to the main doors of the FSB secret police headquarters last November.

He is well known for shocking stunts.

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Media captionRussia artist Pyotr Pavlensky spoke to the BBC in 2015

Pushing the art of protest to new limits

Pavlensky sets fire to FSB front door

Pavlensky was arrested in 2013 after he nailed his scrotum to a cobblestone on Moscow's Red Square. He said it was a protest against tight police controls.

Then, in 2014, he and fellow activists set fire to tyres and waved a Ukrainian flag in St Petersburg, emulating the protests in Kiev's Maidan square that forced pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych to flee Ukraine.

Last November he set the doors of Moscow's Lubyanka building ablaze and stood in front of the fire holding a petrol can.

Image copyright
Image caption Pavlensky was pictured in front of the FSB building by two local journalists

Notorious during Soviet-era repressions, the Lubyanka houses the Federal Security Service (FSB).

He was charged with "damaging an object of cultural heritage", which could mean up to three years in prison.

Pavlensky released a video of the stunt, and said in a statement: "The FSB acts using a method of uninterrupted terror and maintains power over 146 million people."

"Fear turns free people into a sticky mass of uncoordinated bodies," he added.

In other stunts, Pavlensky

  • sewed his lips shut to protest against the arrest of the band Pussy Riot
  • cut off part of his earlobe in a protest over the forced psychiatric treatment of dissidents
  • wrapped his naked body in a "cocoon" of barbed wire outside Russia's parliament building.

He has been repeatedly investigated for "vandalism" and "hooliganism" and psychiatrists have declared him sane.

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