Legal Case of the Week: Petr Pavlensky

posted 15 Feb 2016, 10:11 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 15 Feb 2016, 10:15 ]
Petr Pavlensky was detained on 9 November 9 2015 on charges of vandalism after he had set fire to the front doors of the FSB headquarters in Moscow, a building which had previously housed the Soviet KGB, in a performance which he called 'A Threat'.  On January 26 2016 Pavlensky was moved from pre-trial detention to the Serbsky State Scientific Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry to undergo an involuntary psychiatric evaluation. 
On 3 February 2016 Tagansky district court extended Pavlensky’s pretrial detention until 6 March 2016. Pavlensky has not had contact with his lawyers since mid-December, neither has he had contact with his family since the end of that month. As Human Rights Watch reports, 'Pavlensky said that his action was intended to draw public attention to the FSB’s misuse of terrorism charges to persecute government critics. He challenged the authorities to charge him with terrorism, but was charged with vandalism motivated by ideological hatred, which carries a punishment of up to three years in prison.' Moreover, 'Pavlensky’s partner, Oksana Shalygina, told Human Rights Watch that she had not been able to see Pavlensky since a court hearing on December 24. She said that she was not able to visit him regularly before that because an investigator demanded that she testify as a condition for being allowed to visit.'

On 11 February Amnesty International urged the authorities to grant the performance artist Petr Pavlensky, who has been confined involuntarily in a psychiatric hospital, access to his lawyer and contact with his family. Amnesty International also called on the Russian authorities to ensure that Pavelensky he is not being subjected to non-consensual psychiatric treatment, or other forms of ill-treatment. In an 'Urgent Action' entitled 'FEAR FOR SAFETY OF DETAINED PERFORMANCE ARTIST' Amnesty International urged supporters to send appeals with these messages to Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Yurii Yakovlevich Chaika and Minister of Health of the Russian Federation, Veronika Igorevna. 

The following day Human Rights Watch in a statement urged the Russian authorities to immediately release the performance artist Petr Pavlensky from involuntary confinement in a psychiatric hospital. The Russian authorities should protect his right to due process and unhindered access to legal counsel."  Tanya Cooper, Europe and Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said “Pavlensky’s forced psychiatric confinement is a sinister reminder of the Soviet legacy of punitive psychiatry, and the abuse of psychiatry to silence critics. It violates both his right not to be arbitrarily detained and his right to health. Pavlensky is facing the very violations he had denounced in his performance art. Instead of hiding him in a psychiatric hospital, Russian authorities should ensure that his right to due process is protected and all the safeguards to which he is entitled as a detainee are respected.”

Photo: Wikipedia

'Russia: End Artist’s Forced Psychiatric Confinement. Allow Unhindered Access to Lawyer,' Human Rights Watch, 12 February 2016