Controversial Russian artist Pavlensky wins asylum in France: lawyer

Russian artist Piotr Pavlensky's radical and often painful performances have won him international acclaim

Russian artist Pyotr Pavlensky, who once memorably nailed his scrotum to Red Square to denounce state power, has won political asylum in France, his lawyer told AFP on Thursday.

He fled with his wife and two children to France in January after he and his partner Oksana Shalygina were accused of sexual assault -- allegations he denies.

"The artist and his wife have obtained the status of political refugee," the lawyer, Dominique Beyreuther Minkov, told AFP.

The French office dealing with refugee requests declined comment, saying that it never communicated on its decisions.

Pavlensky has gained a reputation for challenging Russian restrictions on political freedoms in radical, often painful performances that have won international acclaim.

While best known for his 2013 Red Square performance entitled "Fixation", he also sewed his lips together to protest against the jailing of members of the punk group Pussy Riot.

He has also wrapped himself in barbed wire and chopped off part of his ear.

In November 2015, he doused the doors of the FSB -- the successor to the Cold War-era KGB, or secret police -- in petrol and set them on fire, in a performance called "Threat".

He spent seven months in jail awaiting trial for damaging the door of the infamous Lubyanka building before being eventually freed in June.