(K. Brent Tomer),
PETR PAVLENSKY’S predicaments are usually intentional. Russia’s foremost protest artist has been arrested several times for his provocative performances, which include nailing himself by the scrotum to Red Square, slicing off his earlobe atop a notorious Moscow psychiatric ward and, most recently, setting fire to the doors of Lubyanka, the headquarters of Russia’s secret police. But now Mr Pavlensky finds himself facing charges of a different sort, accused, along with his partner, of sexually assaulting an actress from Moscow’s leading opposition theatre.
The incident, as upsetting as it is inconclusive, became the talk of Moscow when Mr Pavlensky revealed the news from Paris earlier this week. It leaves Russia’s political and cultural intelligentsia bitterly divided over a man many held up as a brave model of individual resistance. Mr Pavlensky and Oksana Shalygina, his partner, admit to having spent an evening with the actress in early December last year. Mr Pavlensky says that there were “close relations”, but insists that the encounter was consensual and involved no violence. He believes that Russia’s security services…Continue reading