Officials Drop Charges Against Voina Activist

Officials Drop Charges Against Voina Activist

Published: October 19, 2011 (Issue # 1679)

A criminal case against the art group Voina over last year’s stunt involving overturning police cars has been dropped by investigators, while the artists continued to find themselves in trouble this week.

Voina artists Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolayev were arrested in Moscow in November last year and charged with criminal mischief motivated by hatred of the social group “police,” and spent three months in a pre-trial prison in St. Petersburg.

They were released on bail paid by British graffiti artist Banksy in February.

According to the ruling, a scan of which was posted on Voina’s web site last week, the artists’ actions “do not contain signs of crimes governed by Article 213 [motivated by hatred of a specific social group].”

The investigation agreed with experts from the Herzen Pedagogical University, who came to the conclusion that the police were not a social group, which meant that the artists could not be prosecuted under Russian anti-extremist laws.

As a result, Nikolayev no longer faces any charges and is due to get back his bail money.

Vorotnikov and his wife Natalya Sokol remain under investigation for their part in a Strategy 31 rally on March 31. They have been charged with assaulting a police officer and insulting a police officer, respectively.

Vorotnikov was put on the police’s international wanted list in July. His wife Sokol was put on the federal wanted list the next month.

Sokol was detained Monday with her two-year-old son after giving an interview to a German TV journalist outside a hotel on the Kryukov Canal. She was released Tuesday morning after spending the night at a police precinct.

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