Russian Police Open Criminal Case Against Radical Religious Vandals
Russian police have opened a criminal case against a group of radical orthodox Christians who vandalized a Moscow art exhibition by the acclaimed Soviet artist Vadim Sidur in August.
Activists belonging to a group known as God’s Will smashed several sculptures, claiming the artworks’ depictions of Jesus were “blasphemous,” “indecent,” and a “dirty, harsh mockery.”
The exhibition titled Sculptures that We Don’t See included works by artists such as Sidur, Nikolai Silis, and Vladimir Lemport, who were censored during Soviet rule for their “non-conformist” content.
The BBC reported that the attack unleashed widespread condemnation from Russia’s art community. Top museum officials wrote an open letter denouncing the attack and warning that the vandalism threatens all of Russia’s museum community. Signatories included the directors of the Pushkin Museum and the Tretyakov Gallery, amongst others.
According to Moscow police spokesman Andrei Galiakberov, the damage to four exhibits has been estimated at 196,000 rubles ($2,908) but exhibition organizers said they will seek much higher compensation, RFERL reported.
Under Russian law, criminals convicted of cultural vandalism face a maximum penalty of fines up to 5 million rubles ($74,190) and six year imprisonment.
The vandalism in Moscow was followed by an attack on a Demon bas-relief adorning a historic building in St Petersburg at the end of August, which resulted in widespread protests against the rise of fundamentalist attacks.
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