Russian artist presents Havel Prize to group accused of killing police officers
PRAGUE (Reuters) – A Russian performance artist presented his Vaclav Havel Prize on Monday to a businessman who pledged to fund a Russian group whose members have been convicted of killing police officers.
Peter Pavlensky received the Havel Prize for Creative Dissent from the New York-based Human Rights Foundation in May for a performance in which he set fire to the main entrance to the headquarters of the Russian security service FSB, successor to the KGB of the Soviet era. .
The award, named after the late President of the Czech Republic, “celebrates those who bravely and ingeniously unmask the lie of the dictatorship by living in the truth,” according to the foundation’s website.
But the foundation later waived the award and refused to pay the accompanying $ 42,000, when the artist pledged to donate the money to lawyers for the group called Primorsky Partisans.
The group claims to fight against police corruption and lawlessness. But some of its members were found guilty of killing several police officers, who they said were Russia‘s real criminals.
Pavlensky said on Sunday that he considered supporters worthy of the award because they oppose an oppressive regime in Russia.
“I can present the award to people who I think deserve it, to those fighting against police terror,” he told Reuters.
Radio Free Europe reported last month that a Vladivostok court acquitted five Partisans jailed since 2010 on charges of killing police officers. But three of the five remain in prison for other crimes, including the murder of two other police officers.
Pavlensky’s previous performances include stitching his lips to protest the imprisonment of anti-Kremlin punk group Pussy Riot in 2012. He also nailed his scrotum to Red Square in 2013, a move he described as a metaphor for the political apathy of Russian society.
Yevgeni Chichvarkin, a Russian millionaire currently living in self-imposed exile in London, pledged to donate $ 42,000 for legal aid to supporters after Pavlensky presented him with the award, a statue of a woman holding a torch, during a brief ceremony on Wenceslas Square in Prague on Monday.
Reporting by Robert Muller, editing by Larry King