‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’: Performance artist Pavel Krisevich is a political prisoner

23 December 2022

Krisevich has been sentenced to five years in a penal colony for his ‘suicide’ performance on Red Square

Source: Political Prisoners Memorial

The human rights project, ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial,’ considers performance artist Pavel Krisevich a political prisoner in accordance with international criteria. His criminal prosecution is an attempt to prevent the artist from exercising his rights to freedom of thought and expression. We believe his prolonged detention on remand and the unjustified severity of his sentence are clearly disproportionate to the public danger of Krisevich’s actions.

We demand the immediate release of Pavel Krisevich from custody and that all criminal charges against him be dropped.

Who is Pavel Krisevich and what are the charges against him?

Pavel Krisevich is well known for regularly putting on performances that touch on sensitive political topics, primarily that of politically motivated prosecutions in Russia.

For example, in 2020 he put on art performances in connection with the verdicts in the St. Petersburg Network and the New Greatness trials. Later, he put on a performance in support of Russian political prisoners and detainees at rallies in Belarus, ‘hanging himself’ from the Troitsky Bridge in St. Petersburg. On the day Aleksei Navalny was poisoned, Krisevich went to the St. Petersburg FSB headquarters with a tray and a boiling cup of ‘Tomsk tea.’

In November 2020, Krisevich held one of his most striking performances: on Lubyanka Square in front of the main FSB building in Moscow, the artist was ‘crucified’ on a cross, wearing a crown of thorns and covered in blood, while a bonfire of dozens of files of politically motivated criminal cases burned at his feet.

Each time the administrative penalties for the performances became harsher, and after another performance in 2021 a criminal case was brought against Krisevich for the offence of ‘hooliganism with the use of objects used as weapons’ (Article 213, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code). On 11 June 2021, Krisevich put on a performance, ‘a manifesto against fear,’ on Red Square in Moscow, simulating a ‘suicide’ with a blank-firing pistol. Immediately after the performance, he was detained by police.

On 13 June 2021, Krisevich was remanded in custody. On 18 October 2022, Moscow’s Tver district court sentenced him to five years in a general regime penal colony.

Why do we consider Krisevich a political prisoner?

Article 213 of the Russian Criminal Code defines hooliganism as ‘gross disorderly conduct expressing clear disrespect for the public.’ Krisevich’s performance can certainly be considered a violation of public order, and shooting in a crowded place could have caused moral harm to those who witnessed it. At the same time, we believe qualification of Krisevich’s actions as ‘hooliganism’ is extremely dubious: they contain no motive of hooliganism, and the public danger of his actions is very limited.

Moreover, during the performance the artist gave a speech which, in essence, was a citizen’s response to police impunity and mass repressions in Russia and allows us to argue that his performance was inspired by socially useful motives. By drawing attention to the problem of political prisoners, Krisevich was acting in the interests of Russian civil society and democracy. The artist’s previous performances were also public expressions of his views on socially significant issues and had no intention of causing any harm to the public.

Finally, the lengthy detention and unreasonable cruelty of his sentence also clearly indicate that Krisevich’s criminal prosecution has been politically motivated.

A more detailed description of Pavel Krisevich’s prosecution and the position of the human rights project are set out on our Telegram publishing platform.

An up-to-date list of political prisoners in Russia is available on our website.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply the ‘Political Prisoners. Memorial’ project agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.

How can you help?

Up-to-date information about the case is available on the Telegram channel of the Pavel Krisevich support group.You can donate to support all political prisoners via the PayPal (helppoliticalprisoners@gmail.com) or YooMoney accounts of the Union of Solidarity with Political Prisoners.

Translated by Rights in Russia

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