Monday, December 5, 2011

Kremlin arrests Voina art activist Leonid Nikolaev at election protest

A doctored image of Putin
V. Putin as L. Brezhnev (c) Moscow Times, 30 Sept. 2011, author unknown

On 4 Dec., Putin & Medvedev catapulted to an absolute majority in the Duma (Russian parliament), assuring Putin´s autocracy for years to come and along with it, repression of any irritating political dissenters like Voina Group, living squat to squat in St. Petersburg on the run, wanted by Kremlin Kops and Interpol.

During a protest against alleged Russian election fraud in St. Petersburg yesterday (4 Dec.), police arrested Voina co-founder Leonid Nikolaev and scores of others. (See Voina website story below, reprinted with Voina´s permission.)

Between 4 - 23 Oct. I posted 10 stories in a series about how the Kremlin Kuratorium (read, Russia´s politically correct arts establishment and elite) unsuccessfully tried muffling Voina, which won the coveted (1st place)  2011 Russian Innovation Award in Contemporary Art with its "Dick Captured by the KGB" mega painted penis on a draw bridge, which when drawn erect, gave the finger to the KGB´s successor´s HQ of the FSB. 

Voina shunned the award, refused to show up to receive the $15,000 USD cash. Voina instead demanded the money be used to help Russian political prisoners.

This controversial January 2011 award provided Putin--a former Lt. Col. in the USSR´s KGB--ample reason to neutralize Voina with a classic, spy vs. spy disinformation campaign using fraud, installing two pseudo Vonia ex-members as the current, legitimate Voina Group.

During the recent 4th Moscow Biennale, the Kremlin Kuratorium--with full support from the Ministry of Culture and Putin´s art appartachiks--unsuccessfully tried folding the fake Voina into its new contemporary arts establishment, nulling and voiding the original political art dissenters, about 20 of them scattered about in St. Petersburg since 2009.

Street activist art may be at the extremes of contemporary art. But it´s politically potent art. Art like this has changed the course of history and it will continue to do just that.

Voina is Ai Weiwei not because of comparable artistic abilities but because they employ art as a vehicle of political dissent against government corruption and social and political injustice.

Voina concept street activist artists use dramatic metaphors and happenings as outrageous and brazen, non-violent political dissent. They are not trained 2D or 3D visual artists.

They are university educated intellectuals.

It´s people like this who led the Russian Revolution with Lenin and who Lenin almost immediately executed after gaining power.

Lenin knew how much these Russian idealogs and intellectuals hungered for social and economic equality.

Lenin´s priority was consolidating and exercising dictatorial and autocratic powers through his Communist Party. Economic and social parity converted serfs into obedient comrades following orders.

Nothing much changed, only the names of the oppressors.

Intellectuals were lined up against the wall and shot or doomed to death in Siberia.

Voina acts out a historical Russian theme of revolution against ruling oppressors.

The Kremlin Kuratorium´s ruse during the 4th Moscow may have failed to convince the global arts professionals that an art activism festival of about 55 art activists and a feigned controversial showing of a benign Ai Weiwei non-political video work, means that Putin´s Russia is open and democratic......well, no.

It´s clear the Kremlin aims to repress Voina members in hiding, on the run, two wanted by Interpol for what amounts to be malicious vandalism (turning over a cop car in St. Petersburg).

Russian history repeats itself.

Russians are not accustomed to transparent democracy. They often need and even want a strongman at the helm.

In transitional democracies like Hungary, nearly half the people would welcome either a right or left-wing autocracy if it delivered economic prosperity.

This tradeoff may be why Putin´s political party won an absolute majority in the Duma.

(It bears mentioning that G.W. Bush, with the fraudulent assist from his brother Jeb Bush, then Florida governor, managed to steal the 2000 U.S. Presidential election, winning Florida, the key swing state, with fewer than 400 votes.)

What Voina describes below is factual. The repression is every bit as brutal as in China.

Each mirrors the other. You only have to turn the pages of history to see that art activist martyrs play a very critical role in liberalizing autocratic regimes.

But these dissenters will suffer consequences.

Nikolaev could have stayed hidden in a squat. He did not and showed up to protest, knowing he might well be arrested and beaten as happened previously during his four month´s of detention in 2010.

You would not find any of the two imposter, pesudo-Voina living in Moscow putting their bodies in harm´s way protesting Russian election fraud and corruption.

Detained Voina co-founder's whereabouts unknown--a new chapter of repression opens

05 Dec 2011, 0:38

Leonid at the rally against illegitimate elections. Gostiny Dvor, St. Petersburg. December 4th, 2011
Leonid Nikolaev was detained by police today during a protest rally against election fraud in St. Petersburg. The arrest took place around 8 PM. Leonid’s current whereabouts are unknown.

Leonid Nikolaev whistling in protest to illegitimate elections. December 4th, 2011
A fight broke out in the police bus that Leonid was taken to, after police started beating protesters inside the bus. Several activists were badly beaten.

A broken window of the police bus
Leonid’s attorney Dmitri Dinze:
“We have information that he has been arrested, but we don’t know which police station he was taken to.”

Leonid Nikolaev is grabbed by riot police

Leonid being dragged into the police bus

The arrest of Leonid Nikolaev
Over 70 people were arrested during the rally, among them The Other Russia activist Igor Chepkasov and United Civil Front leader Olga Kurnosova.

Rock on and practice peace and love.
Stefan, the ArtTraveler ™

ArtTraveler notes:

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The owner and staff are affable and speak English and German. Tel: 0036-1-413-3510;;

Visit Andalusia for a walking holiday or week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop. 

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