02 October 2012, 16:06
Probe launched into whether Vinzavod art show incited enmity
Moscow, October 2, Interfax - The Russian Investigative Committee has started a pre-investigation inquiry into claims that an exhibit, titled Dukhovnaya Bran (Spiritual Row), on display at the Vinzavod gallery in Moscow, incited hatred and enmity in viewers, Interfax was told at the Russian Investigative Committee.
"At order from the Prosecutor General's Office the Main Investigative Department for Moscow has opened a pre-investigation inquiry into whether the exhibit carried a content punishable under Article 282 of the Criminal Code (inciting hatred and enmity)," according to the Investigative Committee.
The Investigative Committee has confirmed that the organizer of the art show, Viktor Bondarenko, and painter Yevgenia Maltseva have been asked to provide explanations. "After the inquiry is through the decision will be made whether a criminal case will be opened," the Investigative Committee said.
Member of the December 5 Party opposition movement Natalya Pelevina told Interfax earlier on Tuesday that Maltseva, the author of the scandalous exhibits for the Spiritual Row display featuring the Pussy Riot punk singers, has been summoned to the Investigative Committee for questioning.
According to Pelevina, Maltseva has received a summons following a monitoring done in social networks, but no further details were provided about what the investigators were after.
The controversial Spiritual Row art show, featuring the punk singers sentenced for staging a scandalous performance at the Christ the Savior Cathedral, was opened at the Vinzavod gallery on September 20.
Four wooden "icons," measuring 160 by 200 centimeters were on display. Also, three 200 by 160 centimeter quasi-impressionist paintings were put up above a stage, portraying the Pussy Riot singers wearing balaclavas of various colors. One of the pictures carried the word "Free" in large yellow letters.
The art show was opened in a scandalous way, as 20 Don Cossacks, who had gathered at the entrance and were chanting "Liberal Fascism Won't Pass," attempted to break into the gallery. Police with truncheons stood nearby, watching. Nine people were detained when Orthodox activists and Cossacks attempted to enter the exhibition, and they were taken to police vans.
The Moscow Patriarchate described the art show as an act of cynical terror against Russian culture. "What is going on at the exhibition has nothing to do with art. It is yet another instance of cynical and ruthless terrorism against our culture," said Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), secretary of the Patriarch's Council for Culture.