In 2007, Oleg Vorotnikov, a philosophy graduate from Moscow State University (MSU), also known as Vor (“Thief”), and his wife Natalia Sokol, also known as Kozol, Koza or Kozlyonok (“Little She-Goat”), founded the radical left underground street art group Voina. Voina’s controversial actions have ranged from street protest, symbolic pranks in public places, and performance-art happenings, to vandalism and destruction of government property. More than a dozen criminal cases have been brought against the group. On 15 November 2010, Leonid Nikolayev and Oleg Vorotnikov were arrested for overturning seven empty police cars as an art performance act, Palace Revolution. When bailed out from prison in late February 2011, Vorotnikov skipped on his bail and went into hiding.
Other key members include Leonid Nikolayev (Lyonya Yobnuty, “Crazy Lenya” or “Leo the Fucknut”) and Alexei Plutser-Sarno (Plut, “Crook”), chief author of the group’s media art and texts. Pyotr Verzilov and his wife Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were members of Voina since its early stages, and lived with the group as squatters in an automobile garage. However, they split from the original group in acrimonious circumstances in late 2009, forming their own group Pussy Riot.