When Voina artists’ pre-trial incarceration was extended another month on Friday in St. Petersburg, the judge declined their bail offer – $66,500 for each, adding up to the exact amount Banksy’s aid — citing “lack of information about the person providing the money.” And there it is, Banky’s anonymity, worth a million yet useless in court. VIDEO of the trial below.
Then again, this isn’t your regular court. If it wasn’t this, it would have been something else. This is the third month that the Voina artists are in jail since their arrest, with no date set for trial to determine whether turning over a cop car is a hate crime or an artistic act of protest.
Below is a video from the proceedings with some key points, summarized. (Slavs better versed in Russian are welcome to correct my translations.)
Voina’s lawyer: The artists have been held in prison without trial for an unlawful period of time. No one comes to question the artists in jail, papers are constantly misplaced and the whole investigation seems deliberately stagnant. The situation is ludicrous.
Voina’s second lawyer: To equate damage to police property with violent extremism is ridiculous. Moreover, the prosecutor’s claims that the act was a hate crime against the police implies that the police is a social group and a minority requiring special protection, while in reality, the police is not a social group and is protected more than anyone else.
Voina’s president Leonid Nikolayev (Bucketman): The police cannot be treated as a special interest group because their own law enforcement doctrine states they should have no special interests.
Voina’s lawyer: They treat the artists like dangerous criminals and are determined to keep them in prison, regardless of the evidence or bail money offered. This is clearly a political gesture.
Voina’s idealogist Oleg Vorotnikov: When arrested, Oleg has been kept in a room with spike-surfaced walls which were outlawed by human rights groups. They intended to intimidate and torture him. Oleg smiles because the prosecutor says he’s never heard of Voina before.
Voina’s witness, a respected professor, sociologist and economist, expert on political dissent: Only the other day, the president of Russia has called out the police force for corruption and promised to deal with it. Some people protest by publishing books, shooting documentary films or writing poetry. Voina’s artistic methods of dissent are highly social and direct, aiming to confront directly the elements that hurt Russia’s goverment and its people. It is not a traditional form of protest, but if they are to be legally punished for their actions, then the process has to be lawful and just. They have never, ever hurt another human being. This is an important chapter in Russia’s political history.
(Photo: Vladimir Telegin)
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