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Radical Russian Artist Charged Over Paris Bank Blaze

(FILES) This file photo taken on January 16, 2017 shows Russian artist Pyotr Pavlenski (L) and his wife Oksana Chaliguina (R) posing in Paris. Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky, arrested for torching a Paris branch of France’s central bank, has been admitted to a police psychiatric unit, a legal source said on October 18, 2017. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP

Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky and his partner were charged on Wednesday with torching the facade of a Paris branch of France’s central bank and placed in pre-trial detention, a legal source said.

Pavlensky — best known for nailing his scrotum to Red Square in 2013 to denounce Russian state power — and his partner Oksana Shalygina were accused of “dangerous destruction of property” following the early Monday stunt.

Pavlensky had been initially admitted to a police psychiatric unit, but a judge decided on Wednesday the pair should be placed in pre-trial detention, the source told AFP.


Pavlensky, 33, who regularly defies the Kremlin and recently obtained asylum in France, was arrested on Monday at around 0300 GMT with Shalygina in front of a Paris branch of the Banque de France.

Photos on social media showed a black-clad Pavlensky standing in front of the shuttered front door of the branch in Paris’s Bastille Square, with fires consuming two windows on either side of him.

Pavlensky gained a reputation for challenging Russian restrictions on political freedoms in radical, often painful performances that have won international acclaim.

While best known for his 2013 Red Square performance entitled “Fixation”, he also sewed his lips together to protest against the jailing of members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot.

He has also wrapped himself in barbed wire and chopped off part of his ear.

In November 2015, he doused the doors of the FSB — the successor to the Cold War-era KGB, or secret police — in petrol and set them on fire.

After the FSB stunt, Pavlensky was handed a fine of 500,000 rubles ($8,700, 7,400 euros) and released after being found guilty of damaging a cultural site.

Pavlensky spent a month last year in a notorious Russian psychiatric hospital undergoing state-ordered tests that found him sound of mind.

France granted him and Shalygina asylum in May this year.

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