Increasingly Powerful Church Prosecutes Museum Artist for "Inciting Religious Hatred"

September 30, 2004

Source: Los Angeles Times,1,2911424.story?coll=la-news-religion

On September 30, 2004 the Los Angeles Times reported, "When the well-known Sakharov Museum broached the subject of religion in an art exhibit, no one was surprised that an outcry followed... Followers of a local priest vandalized the exhibit with spray paint. The Russian parliament voted to condemn the display and urged the authorities to 'take necessary measures'... Ultimately, the power of the state was brought to bear against a museum that has stood as a symbol of challenge to Soviet-era repression and religious persecution. Sakharov Museum director Yuri Samodurov is scheduled today to go on trial in a Moscow courtroom, accused with two other exhibit organizers of 'inciting ethnic or religious hatred.' The case has attracted only a smattering of controversy in Russia, where an attack on the Orthodox Church is seen by many as a body blow to the Russian polity. Stripped of its assets and persecuted for 70 years under atheist Soviet rule, the church of the Russian czars has once again become a key political player in Russia — one of the few civil institutions able to claim a following across the nation's far-flung landscape."