Russian Student Who Shredded Constitution To Spend New Year's In Jail

A student who shredded the cover of the Russian Constitution in a protest inspired by British street artist Banksy has been sentenced to 12 days in jail for allegedly cursing after a court hearing.

A St. Petersburg court issued the ruling on December 27, weeks after Timur Rasulov was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service for putting a big paper copy of the constitution's cover in a frame that shredded it into strips on the city's central Senate Square.

"I'll be greeting the New Year in a [detention center], happy holidays everyone," Rasulov posted on a Twitter account with the handle Toxic Timur.

Rasulov's October 10 stunt, which he called The Disappearing Constitution, was inspired by a similar the day before in which an artwork by Banksy self-destructed before a crowd at Sotheby's auction house in London moments after being sold for $1.4 million.

The protest action in St. Petersburg came amid speculation that President Vladimir Putin may seek to change the constitution, which limits presidents to two straight terms, in order to remain in power after his current term ends in 2024.

The speculation has been fueled by statements by Putin and others about the mutability of the post-Soviet Russian Constitution adopted under President Boris Yeltsin in 1993.

"The mechanism of disappearing and trampling on the country's basic law was launched by the authorities many years ago, and today there is practically nothing left of our constitution," Vremya (Time), the "Youth Democratic Movement" that Rasulov belongs to, said on Facebook at the time.

"The stability of the constitution is a guarantee of the legality of the regime, the stability of the state and legal organization," it said. "The constitution cannot be redrafted to serve the short-term interests of the political groups that are in power."

Rasulov was sentenced to 100 hours of community service on December 4 but was arrested at the courthouse shortly after the hearing and accused of cursing in a confrontation with court officers.

Under Russian law, using obscene language can be considered a violation of public order punishable by up to 15 days of "administrative arrest," meaning jail.