A Moscow artist faces criminal charges for creating an installation depicting what appears to be a huge piece of excrement in a puddle of urine on the snow in Marsovo Pole (Field of Mars), a landmark square in St Petersburg.
Ivan Volkov and a friend were detained by police at a St Petersburg train station on 16 January when they were on their way back to Moscow. A police source told the official Tass news agency on Monday that a criminal case was launched against Volkov based on Article 244 of Russia’s criminal code (“Desecration of the bodies of the dead and their burial places). The minimum punishment is a fine of 40,000 rubles (around $520). The maximum is up to five years in prison if it is determined that there were political, ideological or certain other motives.
On Tuesday, a police source told Tass that Volkov was released on his own recognizance, but that criminal charges had not been dropped. Volkov declined to comment.
Marsovo Pole, known for dramatically blooming lilacs in springtime, was a tsarist military review site and in Soviet times a burial site for Bolshevik victims of the October Revolution and Russian Civil War. Until recently, it was often a site for opposition demonstrations.
Young Artists & Collectors, a Telegram channel that first reported on Volkov’s detention, noted on Sunday that Volkov’s “playful snow poop installation” was an ironic take on poor street maintenance in St Petersburg for which he was being punished far more than a celebrity who had also expressed displeasure.
St Petersburg authorities have been under fire in recent weeks for failing to clear snow from streets. On 15 January, Shnurov, a hugely popular singer famous for his ska-punk band’s expletive-laden songs who has been toying with politics, released a new music video on the theme of street maintenance collapse that included the lines “there is a biennale in Petersburg—an installation of dumpsters” and “Peter is full of shit.”