St. Petersburg, April 14 - RAPSI. The St. Petersburg Investigatory Committee announced on its website that Oleg Vorotnikov, leader of the Voina art group, has been charged with insulting police officers and hooliganism, his lawyer Anastasia Yekimovskaya told RIA Novosti.

Earlier on Thursday, the committee spokesperson, in a conversation with RIA Novosti, could not clarify whether Vorotnikov, 32, from the Perm Region, is involved with the Voina group at all. Dmitry Dinze, who defended the Voina activist, claimed he was not aware of the new case. Last fall Vorotnikov faced legal action for hooliganism (Article 213 of the Russian Criminal Code) for organizing a performance called Palace Revolution, when the Voina participants turned over several police cars near the Mikhailovsky Palace. Vorotnikov and another group member Leonid Nikolayev were arrested and kept at the pre-trial detention center until February, when they were released on bail and their own recognizance not to leave St. Petersburg.

“This is how law enforcement officers qualified Oleg’s actions [insulting the police]. This may have a negative effect on the ongoing case, and we cannot rule out that he will be taken into custody,” Yekimovskaya said.
She emphasized that Vorotnikov always came of his own free will when summoned, so there are no formal reason for his arrest.

Vorotnikov is facing legal action for hooliganism (Article 213(1)), use of violence against a representative of government agency (318(1)) and insulting a representative of government agency (Article 319 of the Russian Criminal Code). These offenses may be punishable by imprisonment of up to five years.

The Voina art group is well known for its scandalous performances. The most famous were staged at the Timiryazev National Biology Museum in Moscow, on the Liteiny Bridge in St. Petersburg and at the Moscow Tagansky Court, when the verdict was announced for the organizers of the Forbidden Art 2006 exhibition. The group members were repeatedly taken to court for administrative offenses.

Last week a performance organized by the group on the Liteiny Bridge won the Innovation Award for the best visual art project. The Public Chamber was outraged with the decision of the jury, which was, however, supported by the arts community.