Russia orders arrest of controversial street artist

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A Russian court Friday ordered the arrest of a prize-winning street artist whose group caused a furore by painting a giant penis on a lifting bridge in Saint Petersburg.

A Dzerzhinsky district court ordered the arrest of Oleg Vorotnikov for failing to obey the terms of bail after he was released in February as his whereabouts are unknown.

"He ignored the conditions and it is not known where he is. He is subject to an international search," the court said in a statement.

Vorotnikov, 32, is one of the leaders of the Voina (War) art group that won international renown for painting a phallus on drawbridge opposite the headquarters of the FSB security service in Saint Petersburg last summer.

The work, titled "A Cock Captured by the FSB", won Russia's Innovation-2011 art prize this year, a decision the culture ministry said it would not censor even though it found the work "disgusting".

Vorotnikov and fellow Voina member Leonid Nikolayev were arrested last year and spent three months in prison for their work "The Palace Coup" when they overturned police cars containing sleeping policemen in a late night stunt.

Their bail of 300,000 rubles ($10,800, 7,500 euros) was paid by the reclusive British street artist Banksy.

© 2011 AFP

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