(NEW YORK)— In the run-up to the three-day election that secured Vladimir Putin a fifth term as Russia’s president, the country’s Federal Security Service (FSB) raided the homes and studios of more than 30 artists across the country. ARC is very disturbed by this unwarranted intervention and deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of these artists and others across Russia, whose right to free expression is relentlessly being suppressed.

“Searching the homes and studios of artists is not only unjustifiable but is used as a scare tactic. The Russian authorities feel threatened by artists because it intuitively understands the power they have to mobilize citizens and inspire them to dream of better, more equitable futures based on human rights,” said Julie Trebault, Managing Director of Artists at Risk Connection. “At ARC, we remain steadfast in our support of artists who bravely defy Putin’s brutal crackdown on basic human rights, including free expression, with every word, song, and act they create.”

One of ARC’s emergency grantees, street artist Philippenzo, was detained in Moscow in the summer of 2023 and spent 30 days in jail before fleeing the country in October. One of  Philippenzo’s close friends was among the many artists whose homes were searched prior to the election. “This is a vivid illustration of the fascist nature of Putinism. But I also think that this intimidation action is more of a pathetic clown act and a demonstration of the regime’s own fear and weakness. I think the art community will only unite stronger after this, and art will always find its manifestation,” Philippenzo said.

On March 12, art activist Katrin Nenasheva was forced into an unmarked car in St. Petersburg and taken away. Meanwhile, in Moscow and St. Petersburg, artists from well-known art groups, including Yav, Pussy Riot, and Party of the Dead, had their homes searched. On March 13, the FSB searched the home of artist Anatoly Osmolovsky, one of the founders of Moscow Actionism and a Kandinsky award winner. These events and others are thought to be connected to a reported treason investigation of Russian-Canadian artist and activist Pyotr Verzilov, who was a member of the collectives Pussy Riot and Voina, and the former publisher of the independent media outlet, Mediazona

On January 17, ARC published the Russian translation of A Safety Guide for Artists to support the growing number of artists persecuted for their opposition to the Ukraine war. The manual, held in high regard with artists at risk around the world, helps artists navigate, counter, and overcome threats from those seeking to silence them. It includes interviews with thirteen prominent artists possessing first-hand experience of government persecution, including Russian visual and theater artist Yulia Tsvetkova and Pussy Riot member Masha Alekhina. In addition, thanks to the generous support of the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, ARC provides Emergency and Resilience grants to support Belarusian and Russian visual artists under threat for opposing President Vladimir Putin’s government and the wars it has unleashed. 


About the Artists at Risk Connection

The Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) is a project of PEN America dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the networks and organizations that support them. If you or someone you know is an at-risk artist, please contact ARC.


About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write and recognize the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.


Contact: Dietlind Lerner, [email protected] tel. +1 310 699 8775