MOSCOW — Yesterday, members of the Russian artist collective VOINA were arrested without charges by Russian police posing as German television journalists. Natalia Sokol and her two-year old son were detained overnight at a Moscow police station and later released. The same night, plainclothes agents tried to break into VOINA member Leonid Nikolayev’s apartment and interrogated his neighbours.
The harassment comes only weeks after all criminal charges against the group were dropped by an Investigations Committee. Last November, VOINA members Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolayev were arrested in connection with an art -performance that involved overturning a police car. They were held for three months and released after grafftti artist Banksy paid their bail. According to the Committee’s decision, the group’s actions “do not contain signs of crimes governed by Article 213 [motivated by hatred of a specific social group]” because the police do not constitute a social group.
Vorotnikov and his wife Natalia Sokol still face criminal investigation for their part in a public protests in March in support of the right to peaceful assembly in Russia — referred to as Strategy 31.
For a firsthand account of the arrest, go to VOINA’s website.
Image above: VOINA members Natalia Sokol, Oleg Vorotnikov, Leonid Nikolaev