A contemporary artist who was recently declared a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International following his 1 May arrest in Novosibirsk, Russia’s third most-populous city, was released on Sunday. Artyom Loskutov had been jailed by Russian police for organising Monstration, an absurdist parade, an alternative celebration to the country’s official May Day celebrations.
The artist had refused local authorities’ offer to hold the carnival-like procession on a river bank rather than the Siberian city’s centre. The artist was formally charged with spearheading a post-march gathering in front of the mayor’s office. Loskutov had refused local authorities’ offer to hold the carnival-like procession on a river bank rather than the Siberian city’s centre. Participants in the alternative parade held signs with messages such as “Lord, forgive us”.
After the parade, a court sentenced the to ten days in prison and another levied a fine of 5,000 rubles, or £62. The artist told Dozhd television station that he would be appealing these verdicts, and would take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary. The artist added that while serving his sentence, he had read Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, about a prisoner’s day in the Soviet Gulag. Loskutov was previously detained on charges of marijuana possession and found guilty of offending religious believers.
Participants in Monstration dressed up in costumes and carried signs with absurdist slogans. The artist first created Monstration in 2004 and won an Innovatsiya (Innovation) prize in 2011 for his alternative event. “It’s clear that he has been punished merely for using the right to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly,” Amnesty’s Russian branch stated on 3 May on its website.