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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.





 


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Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianity’s holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti — Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the desert’s most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDA’s Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBA’s Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.