Czech court frees Russian artist facing extradition, may seek asylum
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PRAGUE (Reuters) - A Prague court has released an exiled Russian underground artist sought by Moscow and allowed him to stay in the Czech Republic during extradition proceedings, a court spokeswoman said on Wednesday.
Oleg Vorotnikov, a founder of the art collective Voina who fled Russia five years ago, might apply to Czech authorities for asylum to avoid facing what he says are political charges against him at home, his lawyer Radim Kozub said.
The Russian artist was detained by police in Prague on Sunday after a random document check.
Vorotnikov fled Russia in 2011 and is subject to an Interpol warrant due to his group's high-profile stunts that authorities have denounced as insulting and violent.
He promised to stay in the Czech Republic during any extradition process, which could last several months, the court spokeswoman said.
His group Voina (War) started in 2007 and gained attention in 2010 by painting a huge phallus on a drawbridge near offices of Russia's FSB security service in St Petersburg.
It came under more pressure that year after members overturned police cars in a protest against abuse of power by the force.
A Justice Ministry spokeswoman said Prague had not yet received an official extradition request, which must be filed within 40 days.
Voina has long been under pressure in Russia for its activities and Vorotnikov could face charges of hooliganism, which carry stiff sentences.
The group also has links to punk protest group Pussy Riot, whose member Nadya Tolokonnikova used to be active in Voina.
(Reporting by Robert Muller; Writing by Jason Hovet; Editing by Tom Heneghan)
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