Moscow Protest Artist In Pretrial Detention Over Red Square 'Suicide' Performance

By RFE/RL's Russian Service

MOSCOW -- Russian protest artist Pavel Krisevich has been sent to pretrial detention over a so-called "suicide" performance in which he fired blanks from a pistol in Moscow's Red Square.

In a June 13 ruling, Moscow's Taganka district court ordered Krisevich to be held in pretrial detention for up to two months over his protest -- which used a modified handgun that could only fire blanks.

Krisevich was detained on June 11 on Moscow's Red Square and charged with hooliganism after he fired two blanks into the air while shouting: "There will be shots before the Kremlin's curtain." He then held the gun to his head and fired another blank.

If convicted on the hooliganism charges, he could face up to seven years in prison.

Krisevich's girlfriend, Anastasia Mikhailova, said the goal of the protest performance was to support political prisoners in Russia.

The Open Media Telegram channel published a picture of the modified pistol along with a statement from Krisevich.

Declaring that his protest was aimed at "state intimidation," Krisevich described the performance as "a kill shot" -- an expression used by hired assassins in Russia's criminal underworld to describe a gunshot to the head of a victim to ensure they are dead.

"The state labels protests as crimes," Krisevich's statement said. "It forces us to think that we are criminals in our cells and chats. But what is it without state intimidation? Clearly, it is an empty space."

Police also detained Nika Samusik, a journalist who recorded the protest performance on video. She was released on June 13.

Krisevich has been jailed in the past over his protests in the Russian capital.

In November, he was sentenced to 15 days in jail for a protest in front of the Federal Security Service's headquarters in Moscow in which he was staged a mock crucifixion of himself over burning files. He said that protest symbolized criminal cases against Russian citizens.

In addition to jail time, he was also expelled from the university in Moscow that he had been attending.

In May, Krisevich was sentenced to 10 days in jail for taking part in an action to support political prisoners in Russia by displaying their paintings in central Moscow.