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Russians honour 65-metre fluorescent phallus

Art award for St Petersburg bridge erection

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A Russian performance art collective has trousered a state-funded cash prize for painting a 65 metre fluorescent phallus on a St Petersburg bridge.

Last July, nine Война ("War") activists took just 23 seconds to slap a todger on the bridge's road surface, which then rose majestically during the nightly bridge raising along the river Neva.

Among those copping an eyeful of erection were operatives at the nearby FSB (Federal Security Service, formerly KGB) building. Война's ideologist-in-chief Alexei Plucher-Sarno, described the gesture as "giving a 65-metre finger to the whole system of state control".

Война now has 400,000 roubles (£8,730) to spunk on further artistic protests, thanks to a National Centre for Modern Art award honouring the phallus's contribution to innovation in visual arts.

The cash actually comes from Ministry of Culture coffers, and Russia's Orthodox Church is none too impressed that state funds have ended up in the hands of graffiti-happy agitators.

The police aren't all that happy with Война's activities either. According to the New York Times, previous stunts include "an orgy in the State Museum of Biology and laying out an elaborate banquet table on a moving subway car in memory of the dissident artist Dmitri A Prigov", but cops took serious exception to the overturning of several St Petersburg police cars.

Founder Oleg Vorotnikov and Leonid Nikolaev spent months languishing in jail following their arrest on hooliganism charges relating to the incident. They were reportedly recently released after UK street artist Banksy posted 300,000 roubles (£6,540) bail. ®

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