(Walter Mayr’s article appeared in Der Spiegel, 12/21; translated by Christopher Sultan.)

The message arrives at the last minute via email, and the tone is commanding. Meeting place: McDonald's. The conditions: No mobile phones or recording devices. The meeting time: now.

It's night in St. Petersburg as we approach the Nevsky Prospect and cross the bridge to the northern bank of the Neva River to a McDonald's near the Vasileostrovskaya metro station. Inside the crowded restaurant, young people sit hunched over their hamburgers and french fries. The wanted man, a well-built figure with a goatee, is sitting in the middle of the room.

At first glance Oleg Vorotnikov, born on Aug. 17, 1978, doesn't look like a man on the run, but rather like someone who refuses to believe that the police are actually searching for him — and not only in Russia. In July, the St. Petersburg Dzerzhinsky District Court issued an international arrest warrant against Vorotnikov on charges of "hooliganism."

Vorotnikov ridicules this decision by the Russian authorities as "one of the highest forms of recognition" of his work and his political cause. He calls it a suitable form of recognition, given that he is not just any tramp or crazy anarchist. "I am one of Russia's most famous artists," says Vorotnikov.


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