Two Russian art curators were found guilty, after a 14 month trial, of violating Russia's tough hate-speech law. Some say the verdict protects religious values, but others decry it as censorship.
Mikhail Metzel/AP Photo
A Moscow court' found two former museum curators guilty of "inciting hatred" against Christians. But some Russian analysts say the verdict will cast a chill over artistic freedom in Russia and encourage extreme nationalists to target a wider range of liberal voices.
At issue was a 2007 exhibition at the Sakharov Museum that featured "images which are derogatory and insulting to Christianity and religious people," which is a serious crime under Russian law.
Entitled "Forbidden Art," it aimed to challenge censorship and included several controversial images of Jesus – including one which replaced his head with that of Mickey Mouse, and another with the Soviet-era Order of Lenin medal.
Moscow's Tagansky court ruled that the former director of the Andrei Sakharov Museum, Yury Samodurov, and the ex-head of the Tretyakov Gallery's modern art section, Andrei Yarofeyev, "committed actions aimed at inciting hatred." The 14-month trial included more than 134 witnesses for the prosecution, most of whom admitted they had never viewed the art works in question.
The pair could have faced jail terms of up to five years, but were instead handed fines. Mr. Samodurov must pay 200,000 roubles (about $6,500), while Mr. Yerofeyev was fined 150,000 roubles (about $5,000), RIA Novosti reported.
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