Criminal charges have been pressed in Moscow against Yuri Samodurov, the director of the Sakharov Public Center, and Andrei Erofeev, a curator at the State Tretyakov Gallery, in the aftermath of their exhibition "Forbidden Art 2006." The exhibition presented works which were earlier removed from exhibitions of contemporary art at public institutions. The exhibition raised questions about the role of censorship in the presentation of contemporary art. Among works that had been censored were those by such acknowledge masters of Russian art as I. Kabakov, V. Bakhchinyan, and L. Sokov.
Currently, both of the organizers of the exhibition are awaiting trial on charges of "offending religious feelings and incitement of interethnic strife." The text of the charges that were officially presented to Mr. Samodurov on May -, 2008 is given in its entirety below.
Translator's Note: Every effort was made to preserve the formal qualities of the text as it appears in Russian.
Resolution concerning the defendant's arraignment
Moscow, May 15, 2008
E.E. Korobkov, lawyer of the 1st Level and senior investigator of the investigative division for the Tagansky district of the investigative office of the investigative committee of the Public Prosecutor's Office of Russian Federation in the city of Moscow, having examined the materials of criminal case #402588,
Sufficient evidence has been gathered in the case to give reason to charge Yuri Vadimovich Samodurov with committing actions that were intended to incite hatred and strife, as well as to demean a group of persons based on their belonging to a religion, said actions having been committed publicly by a person using his official position, by a group acting in accordance with a prior agreement, namely:
Y.V. Samodurov, being the executive director of the international public organization Andrei Sakharov Foundation – a Public Commission for the Preservation of the Legacy of A. Sakharov, on the basis of the decision of June 9, 2007 of the general meeting of the members of the public organization Andrei Sakharov Foundation – a Public Commission for the Preservation of the Legacy of A. Sakharov; and being the director of the independent non-profit cultural organization The Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center for Peace, Progress, and Human Rights, on the basis of the decision of the board of the independent non-profit cultural organization The Andrei Sakharov Museum and Public Center for Peace, Progress, and Human Rights (henceforth referred to as the Museum), at a time and place not established by the investigation, conspired with A.V. Erofeev, the Head of the Department of Newest Tendencies of the State Tretyakov Gallery, to prepare and conduct jointly in the city of Moscow a public exhibition, whose clear conceptual aim consisted in expressing publicly in a didacto-demonstrative form a demeaning and insulting attitude towards the Christian religion in general and Orthodox Christianity in particular, as well as towards religious symbols honored by Orthodox believers, this being accomplished through a public demonstration at the museum's premises, located at 57 Zemlyannoi Val St., bldg. 6, Moscow, of specially selected items, which incite hatred and strife, as well as demean the dignity of a group of persons based on their belonging to the Christian faith in general and Orthodox Christianity in particular. In accordance with this prior arrangement to conduct the aforementioned exhibition, A.V. Erofeev was designated as the curator of the exhibition, his role consisting in the development of the exhibition's concept, as well as in the selection of the items to be displayed, while the role of Y.V. Samodurov, in his capacity as the director of the museum, would consist of granting the permission for the display of the exhibition on the premises of the Museum; of finalizing, along with A.V. Erofeev, the selection of the items to be displayed and their installation in the exhibition; and of financing the expenses of conducting the exhibition.
Using his official position as the director of the Museum and the authority, which he had been granted in accordance with article 7 of the Charter of the Museum (to manage the on-going activities of the Museum; to act without a power of attorney on behalf of the Museum; to bear the responsibility for the selection, acquisition, installment and proper functioning of all the exhibits and for the preparation of the Museum's exhibitions; to bear the responsibility for the selection and execution of all of the Museums' programs and projects, with the participation of the advisory board of the museum, the staff, the consulting board, and outside specialists), Y.V. Samodurov made the decision to install the future contents of the exhibition on the premises of the Museum, located at 57 Zemlyannoi Val St., bldg. 6, Moscow, during the period from March 7, 2007 until March 31, 2007, having previously included the exhibition into the Museum's plan of exhibition activity for 2007, approved by him in his capacity as director and placed on the publicly accessible Internet site of the Museum, and provided the technical support for the creation of such contents of the exhibition as would in greatest measure correspond to its criminal intent.
Further, in pursuing the joint criminal intent, A.V. Erofeev, using his official position and professional knowledge, conducted the selection and delivery to Moscow of items which previously were not allowed to be shown publicly at various venues and galleries, after which he offered the items listed below for Y.V. Samodurov's examination.
Having examined the items selected by A.V. Erofeev and fully realizing their correspondence to the conceptual aims of the exhibition, Y.V. Samodurov gave his consent and made the decision regarding the installation and free public display of a number of items from those chosen by A.V. Erofeev at the Museum's premises, located at 57 Zemlyannoi Val St., bldg. 6, Moscow, for the period from March 7, 2007 until March 31, 2007, in accordance with the exhibition plan for 2007.
Among these items was a pictorial composition by I. Kabakov Go **** yourself, which has an especially cynical and devious destructive effect on the consciousness and the subconscious of the viewers, accomplished with the use of layering of a series of images in the style characteristic of children's illustrations over phrases consisting of the rudest obscene (mat) expressions and thus having as its content the making of compatible the incompatible – images of childhood and filthy, obscene, extremely insulting curse language – which presents for the viewer the rudest and most powerful of personal insults, which demeans his human dignity.
Among these items was – a sculpture by Leonid Sokov Memorial, which included non-normative obscenities forming a part of the sculpture, which is embodied in the spatial realization of the work made of metal and is an aggregate of three letters, "x", "y", "й", ["h", "u", "i"], which form upon being read from top to bottom an obscenity [Russian for "prick"], presenting, given the general antireligious context of the exhibition and the title of this exhibit, the crudest of profanations of religious and moral feelings of citizens, a demeaning of their human dignity;
Among these items was – Mikhail Roginsky's Kitchen Conversation, which includes non-normative vocabulary, depicting the top surface of a table with an arrangement of a glass jar, a knife, a half-opened box of matches, a round dish, three round objects (presumably potatoes) next to it, and on the wall behind the table, against a green background, a red sign of an obscene (mat) nature, presenting for the viewer the crudest and strongest of personal insults, a demeaning of his human dignity;
Among these items was – a pictorial composition by Avdey Ter-Oganian Explosion #5, which includes non-normative curse language and consists of a stylized depiction of an explosion against white puffs of smoke, all of this against a purple background, on top of which is written with an exclamation mark an obscene (mat) word consisting of four letters, "x", "y", "я", "к", ["h", "u", "ya", "k", variant of Russian for "prick"], the public use of which and the exhibiting of signs containing which is the rudest of insults against public morality;
Among these items was – McDonald's Advertisement by A. Kosolapov, a printed composition executed by use of color silk-screening in the form of a poster, with an image placed against a bright red background of a man's face, recognizable as and reminiscent in the manner of its execution to the depiction of Jesus Christ typically used in religious sacro-cultural space, along with the logo of the McDonald's chain of restaurants (including the corresponding writing of the name of this chain in English) and, executed in white script in English text "This Is My Body" – which combination joins the sacred (image of Jesus Christ and an element of Christian religious practice) with the vulgar (the production of mass-consumed food), thus containing a blasphemous profanation of a rite sacred to Christians; floutingly demonstrating and broadcasting the idea-statements that the body of Jesus Christ is no more valuable than a hamburger or any other product of mass-consumed food, or that it is comparable and commensurable with these products, that the image of Jesus Christ is interchangeable with the image of any man that is used in advertisements, that comparable or commensurable in their essence are the religious Christian rite of communion and the consumption of food in any public catering facility, that the Gospel texts do not possess any special value and are comparable in their value with advertising slogans;
Among these items was – Icon-Caviar by A. Kosolapov, being a pictorial composition executed as a print on canvas, presenting a definitively recognizable setting of a Christian Orthodox icon of Madonna and Child, in the place of the depictions of whose faces, hands, and clothes, which form for the believers a significant and important part of the aforementioned icon, is placed a naturalistic depiction of black caviar, repeating the contours of the aforementioned original elements of the icon – presenting due to the technique used of soiling an Orthodox icon a conscious demonstration of contempt for religious values, an insult to the religious feelings of believers and a demeaning of their human dignity, realized due to the motive of religious intolerance and hatred;
Among these items were – two works by Alexander Savich [sic] From the Series The Adventures of Mickey Mouse in the History of Art, which depict the Gospel scene of Jesus Christ's Sermon on the Mount and the Gospel scene of the arrest of Jesus Christ in the garden of Gethsemane, produced on the basis of well known, recognizable (which completely removes any ambiguity of the interpretation of the content and aim of these items) engravings by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld by coloring the original images and placing on top of the face of Jesus Christ a depiction of the famous cartoon character Mickey Mouse, who is a definitively recognizable comedic protagonist of cartoons; the technique used is of conjoining of an image of Jesus Christ sacred to Christian believers and the comical image of Mickey Mouse, which presents caricatures of Jesus Christ, extremely insulting and demeaning to the human dignity of Orthodox believers. The main meaning content and aim of these items consist of the wish to broadcast the following idea-statements: that the images of Jesus Christ and Mickey Mouse are comparable and commensurable; that in their cultural and moral content Orthodox Christianity and any media product, for example, a Mickey Mouse cartoon are comparable and commensurable; that Orthodox Christianity is a kind of animated fairy-tale, a story intended for entertainment, simple amusement, not carrying in itself any valuable spiritual, moral, religious or cultural content. Hence, the aforementioned exhibits of A. Savich [sic] present and perform a most cynical, flouted insult, a dysphoric mockery of religious beliefs and religious feelings of Orthodox believers, a demeaning of their human dignity on the basis of belonging to a religion. The item, quite obviously, is deliberately aimed at achieving the result described above;
Among these items was – Untitled by V. Bakhchinyan, a photocollage depicting one of the fundamental Christian symbols – the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, while in place of Jesus Christ's head the author of the work placed an image of the Soviet Order of Lenin, which is extremely offensive to Orthodox believers, demeans their human dignity. The main content and aim of this item consist of a wish to broadcast the following idea-statements: that the images of Jesus Christ and V.I. Ulyanov-Lenin are comparable and commensurable; that both Orthodox Christianity and the Bolshevik regime of V.I. Ulyanov-Lenin are totalitarian and despotic in equal measure. Hence, the work of V. Bakhchinyan Untitled presents a most cynical, flouted insult and a disparaging, dysphoric mockery of the religious beliefs and religious feelings of Orthodox believers, a cruel demeaning of their human dignity on the basis of religious belonging. The item is obviously deliberately aimed at achieving result described above;
After which, Y.V. Samodurov and A.V. Erofeev, pursuing a further intensification of the negative psychological and moral effect of the items on the consciousness of the visitors of the exhibition, concluded that there was a need to combine in the contents of the exhibition items containing obscene language with items using religious symbolism, insulting to Christian religion and Christians as its individual representatives, to which end, using their official positions, they made provisions for the placement of such items as Avdey Ter-Oganian's pictorial composition Explosion #5, Leonid Sokov's sculpture Memorial, I. Kabakov's pictorial composition Go **** yourself, and Mikhail Roginsky's painting Kitchen Conversation in the immediate vicinity of other exhibits using and containing Christian religious symbolism.
In their turn, being publicly presented at the exhibition, the latter contain demeaning characterizations, negative emotional evaluations and negative attitudes relative to a group of persons consisting of Christian believers. Said demeaning characteristics are made with the help of the method of collaging sacred Christian symbols, such as the cross, the setting of an icon, a sacred liturgical text, or the iconography of the stories of the New Testament – with the a priori profane images – symbols of the culture of consumption (McDonald's logo, depiction of fish caviar), the vulgar (the cartoon character Mickey Mouse), or the ideological symbols long contraposed to the Christian religion, such as a Soviet medal or the header of the Soviet newspaper Izvestiya. As an element of the collages, there are images selected which are antonymous in their meaning to the basic values of the Christian faith and practice or are associated primarily with the images of its historical enemies. Thus, the visual techniques used in the exhibits and listed above are aimed at creating an impression of a conceptual "scratching out," negation, or destruction of the meaning of Christian scared symbols and, consequently, the destruction of the meaning of the Christian faith, thus being a direct and public insult of Christians as the carriers of that faith.
Fully considering the negative assumptions and extremely negative emotional evaluations concerning a group of Christian believers expressed in the exhibited items, Y.V. Samodurov realized that the placing of A. Ter-Oganian's pictorial composition Explosion #5, L. Sokov's sculpture Memorial, I. Kabakov's pictorial composition Go **** yourself, M. Roginsky's Kitchen Conversation, both as individual works and as a group, in the immediate vicinity of the other items utilizing elements of religious symbolism of Orthodox Christianity would knowingly and directly insult the religious feelings and demean the human dignity of Orthodox believers.
In further pursuit of their plan and seeking the further realization of their criminal intentions, Y.V. Samodurov and A.V. Erofeev deliberately and consciously made the decision regarding the presentation of the works to the viewers of the exhibition through small openings in a purpose-installed white dividing wall separating the viewers from the works; as a result, this further intensified the negative psychological and moral effect on the viewers of the exhibition, arousing in them a feeling of hurt, of having their human dignity demeaned, which the exhibition exerted through its content, aims, and the overall impact of the means of visual psychological influence used in the exhibits on display, since the organizers realized that the viewer's observation of the items displayed through the openings in the divider-walls will happen not for reasons of the viewers' agreement with or approval of the position of the artists and organizers of the exhibition, but for reasons of the viewer's attendance of the exhibition site as such, i.e. due to the main action that expresses the will of the viewer to visit an exhibition.
Continuing the realization of their criminal intent aimed at the incitement of hatred and strife and the demeaning of the dignity of the widest possible circle of religious citizens belonging to the Christian faith, particularly Orthodox Christianity, seeking to accomplish this criminal aim, Y.V. Samodurov, during the last days of the exhibition, on March 28, 2008 [sic], organized and conducted at The Sakharov Museum and Public Center a public discussion of the exhibition with the participation, among others, of A.V. Erofeev, representatives of the media, and with the subsequent publication of the results of the discussion on the freely accessible site of the Museum in the Internet. During the public discussion of the exhibition on March 28, 2007, as well as in his later public appearances, Y.V. Samodurov confirmed numerous times his intent in taking the actions connected with the organization of the aforementioned exhibition together with A.V. Erofeev.
As a result of the aforementioned joint actions of Y.V. Samodurov and A.V. Erofeev, in a designated space at The Sakharov Museum and Public Center, located at 57 Zemlyannoi Val St., bldg. 6, Moscow, there was opened and run a free, openly accessible exhibition "Forbidden Art 2006, " at which from March 7, 2007 until March 31, 2007 were united into a single exhibit and publicly demonstrated works by the following artists: Mikhail Fyodorov-Roshal Let's Exceed the Coal Production Plan, 1972, wood, oil; Vyacheslav Sysoev, Apocalypse, early 1980s, paper, ink, Light against Darkness, 1985-1986, paper, ink, gouache, Procession of the Cross, early 1980s, paper, ink; Alexander Kosolapov, McDonald's Advertising, 2000, color silk-screen, Icon-Caviar, 1995, print on canvas; Alexander Savko – two works from the series The Adventures of Mickey Mouse in the History of Art, 1995, print on metal; Vagrich Bakhchinyan, Untitled, mid-1980s, photocollage, Izvestiya, mid-1980s, photocollage; Blue Noses group, Chechen Marilyn, 2004, photo; Vyacheslav Mizin, two works from the series Private Places, 2004, photo; Avdey Ter-Oganian, Explosion #5, 2002, oil, canvas; Leonid Sokov, Memorial, 2002, cast metal, Let's Talk, 1985, silk-screen; Ilya Kabakov, Go *** yourself, late 1980s, silk screen; Mikhail Roginsky, Kitchen Conversation, 1966, canvas, oil; Dmitry Gutov, Calendars from the Exhibiton "Kompromat", 1996; Valery [sic] Nilin, Yassa, 2005, photo; PG group, three works from the series Glory to Russia, paper, print.
The intent of Y.V. Samodurov was in that he, together with A.V. Erofeev, conducted the selection of works of a certain tenor. The pool of exhibits for the formation of the exhibition was from the start selected by him, along with A.V. Erofeev, not on the basis of their artistic merit, but exclusively by the criterion of the possibility of using them for purposes of a stronger expression of negative emotional evaluations, intolerance towards citizens practicing Orthodox Christianity or claiming a belonging or preference for the Orthodox faith, for purposes of a directed, conscious and deliberate demonstration of works blasphemous in a religious sense. This fact is confirmed also in that Y.V. Samodurov, in his public appearances, tried to found his actions on ideological and legal basis, perverting the real contents of the principles of Russian law.
Information about the realization and content of the aforementioned exhibition became known to an undetermined, wide circle of citizens practicing the Christian faith, particularly Orthodox Christianity, among them those citizens who had not visited the exhibition and do not reside in Moscow and found out about the fact of the exhibition's realization and its content from the media and from those citizens who did visit it.
As a result of the realization of the exhibition "Forbidden Art 2006," citizens loyal to the traditional cultural values of the Russian people, particularly citizens practicing Orthodox Christianity or expressing a belonging to or preference for the Orthodox faith, among them and to the greatest degree – the visitors of the exhibition, were submitted during the viewing of the aforementioned exhibits to an extremely strong psychotraumatic influence of excessive force, carrying in itself a direct threat to the unity of their identity and of the destruction of the picture of the world that they have formed, which was for them a psycho-traumatic event and a stress factor of greatest strength, caused them unbearable moral suffering and stress, as well as the feeling of having their human dignity demeaned.
As a result of the aforementioned deliberate actions of Y.V. Samodurov and A.V. Erofeev, expressed in the joint organization and realization of the exhibition "Forbidden Art 2006," hatred and strife were incited, as well as the dignity of a wide, undetermined circle of religious citizens demeaned on the basis of their belonging to the Christian faith, particularly Orthodox Christianity, which grossly violated the principles of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation established in the provisions of part 5, articles 13, 14 and 28 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which guarantee the principle of religious tolerance as the guarantee of civil peace and democratic society
i.e. he committed a crime specified in clause "b" of Part 2, article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.
On the basis of all stated above and following articles 171 and 172 (175) of the Criminal Procedural Code of the Russian Federation
To arraign Yuri Vadimovich Samodurov, born in Moscow September 27, 1951, as a defendant in this criminal case, charging him with committing a crime provided for by clause "b" of Part 2, article 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, of which he should be informed.
Investigator E.E. Korobkov (Signature)