‘I wonder how quickly they’ll paint it over’ St. Petersburg police launch criminal vandalism case over Navalny graffiti

Alexander Demyanchuk / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

Police officials in St. Petersburg have opened a criminal case over a graffiti mural of jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny that was painted on a transformer vault in the city’s Pushkarsky Garden. The investigation is being conducted under the criminal code article for political vandalism, which is punishable by up to three years in prison. Though the Navalny mural was painted over within a few hours, since then, other graffiti has appeared in its place. Meduza breaks down the chain of events surrounding this work of street art.

April 28, 6:00 a.m.

A graffiti mural of Alexey Navalny appeared on the side of a transformer vault in St. Petersburg’s Pushkarsky Garden (located in the Petrograd district). It showed Navalny with his hands in the shape of a heart, accompanied by the phrase “A hero of the new times.” The image seemed to be based on pictures of Navalny making a heart-shaped gesture toward his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, during a court hearing earlier this year.

“We haven’t heard ‘Hi, this is Navalny!’ in a long time…I wonder how quickly they’ll paint it over,” photographer George Markov wrote on Twitter, after discovering the mural.

April 28, 9:00 a.m.

Police officers arrived at Pushkarsky Garden along with an investigative team. An expert took paint samples from the graffiti on the wall of the transformer vault. The detectives also checked nearby trash cans, presumably for evidence.

April 28, 10:00 a.m.

An employee from the electrical company Rosseti Lenenergo came to the park — within half an hour he had covered over the graffiti using a paint roller and yellow paint.

“Painted over”
The Navalny graffiti in St. PetersburgMeduza

April 29, morning

St. Petersburg’s Petrograd District Police launched a criminal case for politically motivated vandalism.

Later that morning

The freshly painted transformer vault had acquired a new slogan. The phrase “Choose the right heroes. Think for yourself” is painted on the wall in big black letters.

Even later that morning

A new graffiti mural appeared in the Petrograd district, featuring a riot police officer in a helmet and mask, along with the words “A hero of our time.”

Darya Borisova / Rotonda

Later that day

Artist Dmitry Vrubel wrote on Facebook that the graffiti mural of Navalny had been restored — albeit in a virtual format. You can now see it on Google Maps using Street View, only now it’s on the other side of the transformer vault.

about Navalny and his team

‘Rebranding will not help’ Navalny and his top aides face new criminal charges as his political movement officially disbands ahead of extremism rulingThe first glimpse of Navalny since he ended his prison hunger strikePhoto of the day  Alexey Navalny graffiti mural in St. Petersburg painted over after just four hours

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Story by Alexander Baklanov

Translated by Eilish Hart

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