Pyotr Pavlensky


On 19 May, 2016 Pyotr Pavlensky was sentenced to a year and four months of imprisonment for his performance entitled Freedom.

Freedom took place on 23 February, 2014. Riots on Maidan Square in Kiev had resulted in 75 fatalities only 3 days before, as Ukrainian protestors had attempted to pressurise then-President Victor Yanukovych to step down (on the day before Freedom occurred Yanukovych fled to Russia, where he remains to this day).

In support of the Ukrainian protestors, Pavlensky and a group of collaborators staged a performance in which they built an imitation barricade on the Tripartite Bridge (near the spot where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881) in St. Petersburg, burned tires, beat drums, and shouted Maidan slogans while waving Ukrainian flags.

Pavlensky will not serve in prison sentence as the statute of limitations expired at the time of the sentence. Before the sentence was announced by the court, however, Pavlensky was beaten up during his detention in custody in the building adjacent to the Moscow magistrate’s office. “Every breath causes pain” – he wrote to his partner, Oksana Shalygina. He added that he suffered a knee injury as well as a fractured rib and internal bleeding.

“Pavlensky’s trial – is the same as Pussy Riot’s but in reverse. The main reason is that during this court case the artist who is in the dock is neither a victim nor a hero. He remains an artist. First, in many ways he is directing the proceedings of his own trial. Second, there is his relationship with the authorities – for example, when one of the prosecutors quit the security services after interrogating Pavlensky several times, and became a part of the defence. Against the backdrop of the political situation in the country, when people are being imprisoned one after the other on account of their beliefs, it is critical to see that someone who has found himself in these circumstances [on trial] can be a winner instead of a victim.” Maria Alyokhina – Pussy Riot