We would have endorsed the legal reasoning of the authorities here, except that said reasoning has been hijacked for an utterly vile purpose -- religious obscurantism!
Italicized text copyright © 2003 by the "New York Times"
MOSCOW, Sept. 1 — It was provocative, as modern art often is. But few of those involved could have foreseen just how provocative it would become when the Sakharov Museum here opened an exhibition of paintings and sculptures in January under the title "Caution! Religion."
Four days after the Jan. 14 opening, six men from a Russian Orthodox church came to the museum's exhibition hall and sacked it, defacing many of the 45 works with spray paint and destroying others. "Sacrilege," one of them scrawled on the wall.
The police came and quickly arrested the men.
Somewhere along the way, the tables turned on the museum.
The court made it clear that an investigation should continue — not against those who attacked the exhibit, but against the museum itself.
"For a believer," [an attacker] said, "[the museums's] sacrilege is equivalent to the destruction of a church, which is what happened in the near past in Russia."
One sculpture, by Alina Gurevich, that offended nonetheless depicted a church made of vodka bottles, a pointed reference to the tax exemption the church received in the 1990's to sell alcohol.
A poster by Aleksandr Kosolapov, a Russian-born American whose previous work has satirized symbols of the Soviet and Russian state, depicted Jesus on a Coca-Cola advertisement. "This is my blood," it said in English.
The museum's lawyers received notice the week before last that a commission of experts had been formed to decide whether the exhibit incited interethnic or interreligious hatred, which is a crime in the Russian criminal code. Mr. Samodurov said he feared that the outcome was predetermined because none of those appointed, he said, were experts in modern art.
Aleksandr B. Chuyev, a member of Parliament, [said]
"There are acceptable boundaries within which it is possible to express an opinion, as long as it doesn't affect the rights of Orthodox believers""
[end of quoted text]
Passage from the glorious 1977 Constitution, Article 47:
Grazhdanam SSSR v sootvetstvii s celyami kommunisticheskogo stroitel'stva garantiruetsya svoboda nauchnogo, texnicheskogo i xudozhstvennogo tvorchestva.
"Citizens of the USSR, [to the extent] corresponding with the goals of Communist construction, are guaranteed freedom of scientific, technical, and artistic creation."
Disgraceful parody by current regime:
"Citizens of the Russian Republic, [to the extent] corresponding with the goals of religious obscurantism, are guaranteed freedom of scientific, technical, and artistic creation.
--A. YA. Vyshinsky
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