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Small Fine Handed Out for Penis Protest

Leonid Nikolayev, a radical artist from the art collective Voina, or War, got off with a small fine after he and his colleagues painted a 65-meter-long penis on a St. Petersburg drawbridge, Interfax reported Thursday.

Nikolayev, a Muscovite, was convicted of disorderly conduct, which is punishable with a fine of 500 to 1,000 rubles ($16 to $32).

Nikolayev could have faced up to three years in prison if convicted of vandalism, but the St. Petersburg court ruled against this charge because the graffiti did not impede the functioning of the drawbridge, local 100-TV television reported Thursday.

The graffiti-adorned drawbridge faced the local Federal Security Service building, and Voina members told that their work protested new legislation that would extend the FSB's powers.

The artists also said the penis described what the FSB and police were doing in terms of security for the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which opened Thursday.