Banksy. East London. 2007.
The secretive British street artist is expected to give all proceeds of a print sale tomorrow to the Voina (War) collective, which is notorious for radical actions such as staging an orgy in a Moscow museum and painting a huge phallus on a bridge in St Petersburg.
Banksy is offering a print of his work Choose Your Weapon to each of 175 people randomly drawn from those registered to buy on picturesonwalls.com. "Each print is £450 but if it's any consolation Banksy is donating all royalties to the Voina artist co-operative in Russia, two of whom are currently residing in a St Petersburg jail," the site said.
Oleg Vorotnikov, 35, and Leonid Nikolayev, 27, were detained in Moscow last month and charged in connection with an anti-corruption protest called Palace Revolution in St Petersburg in September, when members of Voina overturned several police cars in the centre of the city. They could face up to seven years in prison.
Police claim the group caused thousands of pounds worth of damage, but Russia's tight-knit art community has called for their release, saying the charges are excessive.
Voina has directed many of its actions at state officials and politicians, saying they are part of a war for the "destruction of outdated repressive-patriarchal socio-political symbols and ideologies".
Alexei Plutser-Sarno, Voina's chief ideologue, told the Guardian that Banksy had contacted the group after hearing about the imprisoned pair. "We're very grateful for his support," he said. "Banksy's help will attract the attention of the whole world to the personal repression aimed at us, as well as to the greater problem of liquidation of democracy in Russia."
Plutser-Sarno fled from Russia to Estonia last month, claiming he had information that police were about to arrest him. He claimed that Vorotnikov and Nikolayev had plastic bags placed over their heads when they were arrested and police kicked them in the head and kidneys as they lay on the floor of a vehicle.
Voina carried out one of its most scandalous acts in June when members painted a 65-metre erect penis on a drawbridge in St Petersburg. When raised, the decoration faced the city headquarters of the FSB, the federal security service.
Two years ago, members of Voina staged an orgy in Moscow's state biological museum under a banner reading "Fuck for the heir, Little Bear". Dmitry Medvedev, now Russian president, whose surname comes from the Russian word for bear, was to stand in elections a few days later and was widely seen as the anointed successor of Vladimir Putin, now prime minister.
In other exploits, Voina members have thrown cats at McDonald's workers to "alleviate their boredom" and staged mock hangings of homosexuals in criticism of remarks made by Moscow's former mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, that gay pride marches were "satanic".
Banksy, who could not be reached for comment, may feel that Voina's mischievous and politically cutting street art chimes with his own efforts, such as hanging spoof masters at Tate Britain and painting graffiti on the West Bank separation wall.
"Some people become cops because they want to make the world a better place," he once wrote. "Some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better looking place."
Source - http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/dec/12/banksy-russia-voina-donation
UPD: Републикация по-русски в ИноСМИ: http://www.inosmi.ru/social/20101214/164894882.html