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Russian Protest Artist Pavlensky, Partner Get Political Asylum In France

Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlenski (right) and his partner, Oksana Chaliguina, in Paris in January

Russian protest performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky has received political asylum in France.

Pavlensky's lawyer, Dominique Beyreuther Minkov, told AFP news agency on May 4 that Pavlensky and his partner, Oksana Shalygina, received the status of political refugees. Shalygina confirmed that to Russia's Dozhd TV (TV Rain).

Pavlensky and Shalygina left Russia for France with their children in January, after they were questioned by investigators upon arrival from Warsaw on December 14.

They said then that a Moscow actress had filed a legal claim against the couple, accusing them of raping her.

Pavlensky denied the allegation and described it as blackmail aimed at preventing him from carrying out political activities in Russia.

Pavlensky, who is known for startling protests that sometimes involve self-mutilation, says his performances draw attention to the indifference of many Russians to what he says is widespread Federal Security Service (FSB) control over society.

He spent 18 months in pretrial detention after he doused a large wooden door at the Moscow headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB) with gasoline and set it on fire in November 2015.

He was released in June 2016 and ordered to pay a hefty fine, which he refused to do.

Pavlensky has also nailed his scrotum to Red Square, sewn his lips together, wrapped himself in barbed wire, and chopped off part of his ear.

Based on reporting by and AFP