Moscow art exhibit called 'blasphemous,' museum officials fined

Religious minorities made uneasy by trial
A Moscow district court has convicted and fined the director and the curator of a Russian museum on charges of inciting religious hatred. The court ruled that a 2003 art exhibit, “Caution! Religion,” was insulting to the Russian Orthodox Church and “blasphemous,” according to U.S. news reports.

Director Yuri Samodurov and curator Lyudmila Vasilovskaya of the Sakharov Museum—named for Andrei Sakharov, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and Soviet dissident—were fined $3,600 each.

The exhibit, vandalized by Russian Orthodox Church members four days after it opened, featured works by about 40 artists, including a sculpture of a church made out of vodka bottles and an icon with the face cut out to allow visitors to insert their heads.

In the March 28 ruling, Samodurov and Vasilovskaya received a more lenient sentence than expected, but Samodurov said the verdict was “a frightening and dangerous precedent.” He said he hopes to be acquitted in an appeal.


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