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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, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in “Downton Abbey” if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russia’s best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russia’s most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkin’s, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontov’s short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library System’s website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Club’s weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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