In St. Petersberg yesterday, police attacked members of the Russian artist collective VOINA. In an unprovoked assault, members of the Criminal Investigation Department followed artists Oleg Vorotnikov, Leonid Nikolayev and Natalia Sokol (along with her two-year old child, Kasper) after attending a press event and jumped them, according to a VOINA spokesperson.
“When we left the press conference in the Ligovsky prospect, we noticed that we were followed by a group of typical thugs,” said Oleg. “We observed that those clearly were anti-extremism officers… One police officer attacked Lenya from behind. They waved their IDs but we couldn’t examine them. They pushed baby pram away and hit Kasper against his face causing a bruise on his left chick. Two others knocked Kozlyenok down into the paddle and started kicking her. They injured her hand very seriously. I managed to free myself from the officers who were holding me and covered Kozlyenok with my body. The blows rained against my back and head. Kozlyenok’s face was already bashed. What’s more when they dragged her by hair, they pulled out one of her braids. The officers were trying to take away a camera from her. But she held it tightly. Activist Lyubka seized one of the officers and he bit her hand…”
Two of VOINA’s atists, Oleg and Leonid were recently released from custody after being held for weeks in connection with a public performance that involved tipping police cars as commentary on police corruption. This was the group’s first public appearance since their release.
Ironically, in February VOINA was shortlisted for the prestigious Innovation in Contemporary Art award organized by the Russian Ministry of Culture.
VOINA has drawn international attention and official criticism in Russian for its daring, often funny and provocative public art performances.
For a more detailed report on VOINA’s public performances see: Even Banksy Couldn’t Help Them.