Pyotr Pavlensky, a famous Russian performance artist, was arrested in Moscow after setting fire to the doorway of the Federal Security Service (FSB) office building, Interfax news agency reported Monday.
Pavlensky was detained by security service guards at 3 a.m near the FSB building on Lubyanskaya Ploshchad, at entrance number one. He had used a canister of gasoline and a lighter to ignite the doorway.
Two journalists were also detained – Vladimir Romensky from Dozhd TV channel and the freelancer Nigina Beroeva.
All three were handed over to the police. The artist Pavlensky was charged with minor disorderly conduct and the journalists were released with no criminal charges.
The artist described his performance as “a glove thrown by the society into the face of terror threat by the Federal Security Service which rules 146 million people by constantly terrorizing them” in a caption to the video of the action posted on Vimeo.
The entryway suffered minor damages from the fire — its doors were covered with soot and white stains from fire extinguisher residue, a journalist for Ekho Moskvy radio Vladimir Varfolomeyev wrote in his Twitter account.
Pyotr Pavlensky is widely known in Russia for his radical political art performances. In 2012 he sewed his lips together in protest against the trial of the feminist group Pussy Riot, and later wrapped himself with barbed wire in front of the St. Petersburg parliament.
In November 2013, Pavlensky hammered a nail through his scrotum and into the cobblestones of Moscow’s Red Square and sat naked waiting for the police to come. He later said that his performance was an attempt to highlight the apathy and indifference of Russian society.
In 2014, the artist joined in a collective action called “Freedom” in participants set car tires on fire in the center of St. Petersburg.