By Alexander Reshetnikov
MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian performance artist arrested for setting fire to the door of Russia’s domestic intelligence service was freed on Wednesday after a court decided against jailing him.
Pyotr Pavlensky came to prominence in 2013 when he nailed his scrotum to Moscow’s Red Square, a gesture he described as a metaphor for the political apathy of Russian society.
On Wednesday, Pavlensky was released from a metal cage in a district court in Moscow and his handcuffs were removed after the judge fined him 481,462.83 rubles ($7,558) for damaging “a cultural heritage site”. He was also ordered to pay an administrative fine of 500,000 rubles ($7,845).
He had set light to the wooden door of the Federal Security Service (FSB), one of the successor organizations to the Soviet-era KGB, in central Moscow’s Lubyanka Square, and then stood in front of the burning door until police arrived.
Pavlensky said his performance, which he entitled “The Threat”, was meant to draw attention to what he called the terror tactics used by the FSB.
After the court hearing, Pavlensky was unbowed.
“This regime is propped up by unending terror,” he told reporters outside the court. “Of course, I won’t pay because it will look as if I carried out my ‘Threat’ action on loan … as if I had bought it from the FSB.”
(Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Gareth Jones)