News

RUSSIA—A spokesman for the radical art collective Voina on Monday announced that its members had broken into a St. Petersburg police station on New Year’s Eve and used gasoline bombs to incinerate a police vehicle used to transport prisoners as “a gift to all political prisoners of Russia.” Amateur video posted online showed a figure tossing lighted objects under a large vehicle, which was then engulfed in flames and spewed smoke into the night sky.

The St. Petersburg police responded skeptically to the Voina claims, releasing a statement that described the fire damage to the vehicle as “insignificant” and noting that there were similar rumors of arson after a fire in August that forensics specialists determined had been caused by a short circuit.

All day, liberals bickered online over whether the arson attack on the police vehicle constituted “pure art,” as one commentator put it, or, as another maintained, “an act as idiotic as voting for United Russia,” the ruling party.

Voina, which was founded by a Moscow philosophy student in 2005, won a contemporary art award sponsored by Russia’s Ministry of Culture for a 2010 work that consisted of a 210-foot penis painted on the roadway of a St. Petersburg drawbridge, which rose to point at the offices of the F.S.B., the state security service.