Escape Artist: Wanted Voina Art Anarchist Outfoxes Russian Police Again, Fleeing On His Bike

Escape Artist: Wanted Voina Art Anarchist Outfoxes Russian Police Again, Fleeing On His Bike
Voina member Oleg Vorotnikov escaped arrest on his bike earlier this week.
(Bike photo courtesy of Ed Yourdon via Flickr / Photo of Oleg Vorotnikov courtesy of Voina)

Troubles are still plaguing the embattled Russian anarcho-absurdist art collective Voina, which has been targeted by the government for Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-bankrolls-jailed-russian-art-anarchists/" target="_blank">their Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-bankrolls-jailed-russian-art-anarchists/" target="_blank">politically Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-14779">Banksy-bankrolls-jailed-russian-art-anarchists/" target="_blank">provocative performances. This week, Voina members Oleg Vorotnikov and wife,Natalia Sokol, were the targets of an attempted arrest gone awry. And true to the over-the-top nature of the collective, it went down like something out of the "Bourne Identity."

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Following a meeting with two German journalists, Ulf Kalkreuth and Igor Nedorezov, at a St. Petersburg hotel, the Voina members were walking down the street with their young son, Kasper, as the journalists filmed the scene. Suddenly, a car driving on the other side of the street made a U-turn to stop next to the group. Sensing danger, Vorotnikov (who has an international warrant out for his arrest) jumped on his bicycle and fled, speeding across a busy highway intersection. Plainclothes police ran out of the car and gave chase, threatening to shoot, but Vorotnikov was already well away ("'Go right ahead,' I replied in my mind," the artist wrote in an email to Voina supporters). 

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Vorotnikov managed to get away, but Sokol and their son were detained by police and held overnight in jail without criminal charges. Sokol was not allowed to speak to her lawyer or make a phone call. The two were released after a visit from lawyer and human rightsdefender Joseph Gabunia and a crew of journalists. The Russian Investigations Committee "officially terminated" two criminal cases against Voina earlier this month, but the government is clearly still interested in pinning the artists down.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei may be released and (relatively) free to make work, as was demonstrated in his recent cover shoot for W Magazine, but Voina are still being actively pursued at the street level. The collective has remained anything but silent, though, recording video interviews, sending out updates to their fans, and documenting incidents like this one that provide evidence of the Russian government's political paranoia.