Russian protest artist Pavlensky stripped of Havel Prize over support for violent ‘Partisans’

July 10, 2016

On 5 May 2016 I reported on the Havel Prize winners [], including the ‘protest artist’ Pyotr Pavlensky. Now that he has been stripped of this award two months later, this should also be reported. The choice may have seemed a bit shaky from the beginning, but the more important is to recognize the decisive action by the award giver, the Human Rights Foundation.

Pyotr Pavlensky
Pyotr Pavlensky
Pavlensky told RFE/RL on July 8 that HRF President Thor Halvorssen had informed him of the formal decision to revoke his prize in an e-mailed letter. The letter, which has been seen by RFE/RL, states that HRF regrets the decision as “unfortunate and unprecedented” but says the prize’s selection criteria disqualify those who have “advocated the use of violence as a valid method to fight government oppression.” Speaking to RFE/RL on July 8, Halvorssen confirmed that the organization had revoked Pavlensky’s prize but said HRF had nothing to add beyond the text of the letter sent to the artist.
Dissident artist Pyotr Pavlensky talked to RFE/RL [Tom Balmforth] about what prompted him to take up political art, and how he sees his political stunts as a rejection of a pervasive “clerical” ideology. He does not take the cancellation lightly and accused the organizers of the Vaclav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent of essentially “acknowledging their support for police terror” by withdrawing the award after he pledged to devote the $42,000 in prize money to the legal defense of convicted police killers in Russia’s Far East.

[The letter drew attention to a post on Facebook on May 25 made by Pavlensky’s partner, Oksana Shalygina, in support of the so-called Primorsky Partisans, a group of then-teenagers jailed in 2010 in the Russian Far East for a series of attacks on police officers. The group of six declared a guerrilla war on law-enforcement officers to protest corruption and lawlessness and were given lengthy prison sentences for the murder of three officers, robbery, and theft. Shalygina acted as Pavlensky’s representative at the Havel award ceremony on May 25 because the artist had been jailed pending sentencing for the Threat performance. He was subsequently found guilty of damaging a cultural site but released on June 8 in a surprising act of leniency. The HRF letter quotes Shalygina as writing on May 25: “We decided to give the award to the Primorsky Partisans because we think they deserve it.”  Pavlensky himself was videotaped on May 27 saying the same thing.

According to the letter, Pavlensky later said that his plan was actually to give the prize money to the legal defense team of the Primorsky Partisans — not to the group itself. This reportedly prompted the awarding committee to waver, but their resolve was said to have been strengthened after Pavlensky published an article on July 4 in which he redoubled his public support of the Primorsky Partisans. In the article, he called the prize committee “totalitarian” and effectively supporting “terror.”]

Source: Russian Protest Artist Stripped Of Havel Prize Over Support For ‘Partisans’


One Response to “Russian protest artist Pavlensky stripped of Havel Prize over support for violent ‘Partisans’”

  1. […] awards end up with the right people or – if needed – decisions get corrected [e.g.…]. This week four controversial cases have come to the fore although they […]

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