St Petersburg artists declared hunger strike

Artists in St Petersburg have gone on hunger strike to protest police arbitrariness. The protesters are demanding the investigation and punishment of those responsible for mass arrests on May Day, when some 300 anarchists, artists, and musicians were seized or dispersed by the OMON, preventing them from taking part in an authorized demonstration in St Petersburg.

Artem Loskutov, an organizer of the annual nontraditional self-expression artistic event “Monstration,” was arrested on 15 May 2009 in Novosibirsk for illegal drug possession. Police also suspect him of involvement in preparing “extremist and terrorist acts.” After Loskutov’s arrest, several demonstrations in his support were held in cities across Russia.

We want our demands to be met. On May 1, our art project, the Pirate Street Party, was shut down. Initially we got [official] permission to hold the event, but then the OMON [riot police] detained everyone.

Without due cause, [the police] began fingerprinting people and putting them into their database of “extremists.” And so we’re here to show them that we’re not extremists but artists.

Our second demand is also connected with this “post-May Day syndrome.” After a flash mob on May 1 in Novosibirsk, the police planted narcotics on our colleague and Leonid’s friend Artem Loskutov and put him in jail.

We demand that he be released on recognizance instead of sitting in a temporary detention facility [while his case is being investigated].

Our third demand is for the authorities to get to the bottom of this strange [Interior Ministry Unit], the Center for Extremism Prevention. This is the eighth day of our hunger strike.

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