Voina Artists Are Wanted by the Police, Again

06.30.11 Marina Galperina

Don’t expect the Voina saga to end any time soon. Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolayev were recently put on Russia’s “federal wanted list,” Voina’s Alexei Plutser-Sarno tells ANIMAL, but there will be more actions. Read on for details.

After spending 3.5 months in pre-trail detention for an art action and risking a seven year conviction under a speculative “hate crime on cops” charge, anarchist artists and epic bridge bombers Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolayev were released on bail, thanks to a legally problematic donation from Banksy. They were brought in for questioning shortly after their release, but were ambushed by the same Center E anti-extremism operatives that brutally arrested them in the first place, Plutser tells ANIMAL: “There won’t be any court hearings until Center E catches us.”

“Oleg, Lenya and Kozlenok keep on hiding at safe flats,” he says. Plutser says he is also wanted by the police under article 210, for “organizing and leading a criminal community” and could be imprisoned for 12 to 20 years. He is currently in exile in an unnamed country. “My grandpa spent many years in jail under Stalin. I think that’s enough for my family.”

“What needs to be highlighted are massive repressions and total elimination of human rights in Russia,” he continues. “As cops are not able to catch Voina, they’ve started intimidating our friends and acquaintances.” According to Plutser, those are left-wing activists Taisia Osipova (currently in jail for five months and counting, for “planted drugs”), Phillip Kostenko (under criminal investigation), Rinat Sultanov (sentenced to two years for a “trumped up” charge) and Igor Berezyuk, Kirill Unchuk and Ruslan Khubayev — “friends of the Voina Group who have been kept for 6 month in pre-trial detention. Their guilt is that they just tried to defend themselves from riot police who beat them unmercifully.” (More details on Voina’s blog.)

To disambiguate any notions of Voina’s political affiliation, Plutser insist that despite their friendship with activists from Eduard Limonov’s Other Russia coalition and their dispersion of Banksy money “for food” to various anarchists, anti-fascists and imprisoned artists, they have never belonged to any political group. “You can say that we’re left wing, and to be left wing in difficult in the Russian context, because Russian quasi-liberals are well-fed, well-paid clowns. Left-wing demagogy is just a way to obtain grants from the West. This doesn’t conflict with their collaboration with the corrupt government. Since the term ‘left’ is vurglarized in Russia, call us ‘Anarchists.’ They’re brave and honest kids, much closer to us.”

The good news? The “War” continues.

As long as the group’s founding father Oleg Vorotnikov and our commander-in-chief Natalia Sokol are free – there will be new actions. Obviously, preparing actions in such circumstances is pretty challenging and takes much time.

(Photo: Valdimir Telegin)

All ANIMAL Voina news.