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Hermitage Art Show Faces Barrage of 'Religious Hatred' Complaints

Published: December 10, 2012 (Issue # 1738)


St. Petersburg prosecutors are checking whether an exhibit by British artists incited religious hatred by displaying Ronald McDonald and a teddy bear nailed to a crucifix.

Prosecutors have received 117 complaints about the "The End of Fun" exhibit by brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman at the State Hermitage Museum, Interfax reported Friday, citing local prosecutors.

The complainants say the exhibit "offends" their faith and is "aimed at inciting ethnic hatred and enmity," a representative of the prosecutors told Interfax.

The museum's director, Mikhail Piotrovsky, said the complainants believed that the crucifix had been desecrated because it had a McDonald's clown and a teddy bear nailed to it.

Piotrovsky asked Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to take action "so that both we and prosecutors are not distracted from our work."

"Our society is being used for smear campaigns," Piotrovsky said. "There is nothing blasphemous [in the exhibit], but there is a clear intention to spoil the mood in the city."

In a statement on his museum's website, Piotrovsky noted that the complaints were "almost identical in wording."

Inciting religious hatred is a criminal charge in Russia punishable by up to two years in prison for an individual and up to five years for a member of an "organized group."

The exhibit, depicting a day of reckoning for fascists, opened on Oct. 20 and runs through Jan. 13.

On Oct. 20, an obscure group of Cossacks e-mailed local television network Piter.tv, calling on Piotrovsky "to come to his senses." They said they would complain to prosecutors if he didn't heed their suggestion to close the exhibit because it depicted swastikas.

Last month, the same Cossack group made another local museum cancel a staging of "Lolita," a play based on the Vladimir Nabokov novel, saying it violated a local law enacted in March against promoting pedophilia.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at today’s Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nation’s premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the city’s elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s latest film “Mommy” at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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