Skip to Content

Petr Pavlensky, Facebook

‘Persecuted’ Russian artist finds no refuge in France

Russia's Vesti news network reported on how an ultra-liberal Russian artist wound up sharing bunks with Muslim terrorists outside Paris after he had been granted political asylum in France.

Published: July 17, 2018, 9:38 am

    Read more


    Russian performance artist Petr Pavlensky made headlines with such daring stunts as sewing his lips shut in protest over the arrest of anti-Russian punk band Pussy Riot, cutting off his earlobe with a chef’s knife while sitting naked on the roof of a psychiatric hospital in Moscow to protest against Russian authorities, and nailing his scrotum to Red Square’s cobblestone paving.

    “A naked artist, looking at his testicles nailed to the cobblestone is a metaphor of apathy, political indifference, and fatalism of Russian society,” he said in a press statement.

    Celebrated among liberal intelligentsia at home and abroad, Pavlensky’s last major stunt in Russia – in 2015 – was to set an entrance to the FSB headquarters on fire, an offense for which he was fined.

    He fled to France with his partner and their two children after being accused of sexual assault by a Moscow actress. There he received political asylum, and was feted in Paris as a champion of freedom persecuted by Vladimir Putin.

    The couple from St Petersburg and their two children were granted political asylum in France in May 2017 after fleeing Russia in January of the same year. Both claimed they had been persecuted by Russian authorities. After numerous detentions by Russian law enforcement agencies, Pavlensky was charged by the Russian government with the sexual assault of the actress Anastasia Slonina.

    But a repeat performance of his FSB stunt at an entrance to the Banque de France in Paris landed Pavlensky in one of the worst prisons in Europe.

    He is being kept in France’s Fleury-Mérogis prison complex where jihadists are imprisoned and is being denied visitation rights to friends of the family.

    In an extreme twist of irony, Oksana Shaligyna, the artist’s partner, is alleging that the French government is worse than Putin’s Russia. France has unduly censored Pavlensky’s contact with the outside world to a degree unseen in their native Russia, she says.

    “At the moment there is a blockade of the artist from information,” Shaligyna told art magazine Hyperallergic.

    On October 17 of last year, both Pavlensky and Shaligyna were charged by a Paris judge with damaging property at the risk of endangering others. They were arrested after Pavlensky’s action two nights earlier, “Lighting” during which he set fire to France’s central bank, the Banque de France.

    Pavlensky defended his arson as “artistic expression”. The Banque de France was erected on the grounds formerly occupied by the Bastille, where the French Revolution started. “The Bastille was destroyed by a people in revolution; the people destroyed its symbol of despotism and power,” Pavlensky explained at the time.

    His statement was released via the FEMEN leader Inna Shevchenko.

    Hyperallergic contacted France’s Ministry of Culture for commentary on Pavlensky’s case and its implications for issues of freedom of expression in the country, but has received no response.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.


    ISIS suspect arrested in Budapest

    BudapestAn ISIS terror suspect who has carried out multiple executions in his homeland in 2016, has been taken into custody, according to the Budapest public prosecutor.

    The geopolitical future of Nordic countries

    Between unity and disunity, independence and foreign interference: Nordic countries have to either choose between creating an independent neutral block in the North, or seeing the region being divided between the great powers.

    Another arson attack on AfD in Berlin

    BerlinUnknown perpetrators have set fire to the car of an AFD member in Berlin. The police confirmed that the vehicle belonging to a party member in the district of Köpenick went up in flames shortly after 2 o'clock in the night of Friday.

    African who torched Italian schoolbus shows no remorse

    MilanThe African from Senegal who hijacked a schoolbus in Italy, terrorizing 51 small children on board, is not going to apologize for what he did.

    A farewell to arms – Ukraine’s corruption spirals out of control

    KievA chilling tale of how Petro Poroshenko's proxies fattened already exorbitantly priced low-quality smuggled spares. 

    Are the Ukrainian presidential elections ‘fake’?

    The Finish journalist Janus Putkonen has started an international petition to stop the Ukrainian elections. Although he is unlikely to succeed, Putkonen has nevertheless gained many supporters. In fact, they are so numerous that the platform "purged" some 3 000 signatures over night.

    Are the Ukrainian presidential elections “fake”?

    Finnish journalist Janus Putkonen. Photo: SuppliedThe Finnish journalist Janus Putkonen started an international petition to stop the Ukrainian elections. It is unlikely to succeed, but Putkonen is gathering many supporters. So many, that the platform “purged” over night 3,000 signatures.

    Serious fun – Russian pranksters shed light on events in Venezuela

    MoscowTwo Russian pranksters have exposed the greed driving the regime change project against Venezuela by the US State Department in daring phone conversations.

    African sets bus with schoolchildren on fire in Italy

    CremonaA 47-year-old African bus driver was held by Carabinieri police on Wednesday after he hijacked a bus with Italian schoolchildren and set the bus on fire. The Senegalese migrant tied the hands of the children with plastic electrical ties in an attempt to kill them, sources said.

    UK Catholic journalist may face prison for misgendering teenager

    LondonBritish police are currently dedicated to fighting "microaggressions" such as "misgendering" people on social media. Meanwhile, out of the 44 police forces, 42 have recorded a rise in knife crime since 2011.

    Go to archive