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Voina Leonid Nikolaev in St. Petersburg
Voina’s Leonid Nikolaev in St. Petersburg

VOINA ART ACTIVIST ESCAPES FROM RUSSIAN JAIL

Dec. 7, 2011

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Russian activist and Voina art collective member Leonid Nikolaev made a dramatic escape from police custody this week after being arrested during an election protest in St. Petersburg on Dec. 4, 2011. In a log kept on the site free-voina.org, Nikolaev, who was also arrested last year along with other Voina members for painting a giant penis on the St. Petersburg drawbridge, details the night’s “submission holds,” “punches in the torso” and bribery that, all in all, make for a pretty good read.

The night started in St. Petersburg’s Dvorcovaya Square, where Nikolaev was whistling the Socialist anthem “The Internationale” as part of a protest against suspected election fraud. Within minutes, however, the riot police began closing in on the group and making arrests. “We were so busy pitying the unlucky bystanders,” Nikolaev wrote of himself and fellow activist Galya Hrenova, “that I didn’t notice the two cops sneaking up on me until it was too late.”

Once at the station, Nikolaev refused to identify himself by any name other than Vassily from the city of Cherepovets. When police tried to fingerprint him he spit on the scanner and balled his hands up into fists. “Whoa, is that so?” said one of the cops, who then led the charge to hold Nikolaev down, handcuff him, and pry his fingers apart.

Nikolaev was then thrown into a cell which, he notices, is equipped with a magnetic door. In the least dramatic part of the story, Nikolaev recounts, “Soon one of the cops walked out through the door. I immediately walked up to the door and leaned against it. My fingers were blocking it from closing all the way. When the moment was right, I opened the door and walked out.”

On the blog he wrote his farewell to the cops. “Never fuck with Leo the Fucknut. It will cost you dearly.”

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